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Gonzo Goes (Back) to Washington

Guess who's coming to dinner? Well, the man who may be the biggest surprise guest at this weekend's White House Correspondents' Association dinner isn't exactly an international celebrity, or a sex symbol, or a man of power. In fact, he's out of work, can't find a new job and is wanted by human rights groups for war crimes.

Yes, that's who's coming to dinner: Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general, who is still under scrutiny in a federal criminal probe of the mass firings of U.S. attorneys in 2006. He's also one of six Bush administration officials being investigated by a judge in Spain for complicity in approving torture.

You might think Gonzo would be a little bashful about showing up at a place that will be jam-packed full of the new guard in the Obama administration and the very Democrats in Congress who drove him from office. But no, he'll be there all right this Saturday night. Gonzales is a confirmed guest of the Houston Chronicle, his old hometown paper.

The newspaper's Washington bureau chief, Rick Dunham, tells the Sleuth he invited Houston natives Gonzales and Margaret Spellings, the education secretary under President Bush, to be his guests because - why not? - they're from Houston.

After all, Gonzales did give the paper an exclusive interview in March in which he was somewhat vague about his current work. Although he did offer that he's looking for an agent to help him sell a book about his version of events as George W. Bush's consigliere.

Who knows what Fredo (as W calls him) was thinking when he accepted the Chronicle's invitation?

Maybe he views it as an opportunity to hobnob and network with Washington's newest installment of the high and mighty. Or maybe he's having a flashback, to eight years ago, when he was one of the capital's new powerbrokers being widely touted as a future Supreme Court justice.

Or maybe he just wants a free meal and some good clean fun.

The Sleuth will give you a full update on this and other buzz from the correspondents' dinner on Sunday, so be sure to check back then.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  May 8, 2009; 6:02 AM ET
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People at the dinner can insult Gonzo all they want. He won't remember anything anyway!

Posted by: shovetheplanet | May 8, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Akers says: "Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general, who is still under scrutiny in a federal criminal probe of the mass firings of U.S. attorneys in 2006."

Nice try there Mary Ann. Firing 8 attorneys out of nearly 100 is not a "mass firing".

You want mass firing? The Clinton admin in 1993 fired ALL of the attorneys.

Posted by: spamsux1 | May 8, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Bush's White House did in fact first suggest to the Justice Department firing all 93 attorneys, but only 8 ended up being dismissed. Firings don't have to be "mass" to be outrageous. Remember Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre?

Posted by: Sutter | May 8, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The lack of shame any of these torturers and torture enablers and Bush frogs demonstrate tees up the very real need for war crimes trial. They really don't believe they did anything wrong. At a minimum, they should be shunned.

Posted by: SarahBB | May 8, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Mary Ann/ Democrats
Why are you outraged over the eight that Bush fired and not over the real mass firing that took place under Clinton? A free press that is sold out to an ideology that sees only one side of every issue and won't point out/bring out both sides, is frustrating enough to those of us old enough to remember the facts, that we will eventually have had enough! We quit buying your papers, and you are going out of business in mass. We quit watching your evening news. Now Fox News is blowing your news outlets out of the park. Janine Garofilo (sp?) says that it's because of the President's race that people went to the Tea Parties. But that is not true.
You hypocrites are going to keep this up until Texas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Alaska, Florida, Montana and others, are going to take all our tax dollar marbles and leave you guys with the bills that Obama is running up, knowing that at least half the country he is claiming to lead is dead set against these choices and the moral choices he is making in our names. You think you have us stumped and that there is nothing we can do about it except submit. But there is another choice. A peaceful choice. We can follow the example of the former soviet republics who had significant "values-differences" with the Kremlin. Then we will see who is willing to start a war over oil and money for their cronies!

Posted by: trevithick | May 8, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Actually, there's only one Gonzo: Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.

The former AG's Bush-given nickname, I am told, was Speedy.

Posted by: thinman1 | May 8, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Who's providing the bus fare from Texas?

Posted by: kurtandstephen | May 8, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Fredo will have a lot of fun saying "I don't recall" at the dinner.

Dinner guest: How's your wife doing?
Fredo: I don't recall.

Dinner guest: Have you found your book publisher?
Fredo: I don't recall.

Dinner guest: Where do you work now?
Fredo: I don't recall.

Posted by: Mickey2 | May 8, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

I find it so ironic that the two highest level people from the Turnip Administration who haven't been able to land jobs yet (and they're both CABINET SECRETARIES!) are both home-town hacks from Texas.

Posted by: Losercuda | May 8, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

thinman1 is mostly correct. there are two gonzos. gonzales is neither.

dr. hunter s. thompson is primary.
the great gonzo, that cuddly muppet, the other.

Posted by: therewasacatch1 | May 8, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

"Mary Ann/ Democrats
Why are you outraged over the eight that Bush fired and not over the real mass firing that took place under Clinton?"

You're very confused, Einstein. Every president, including Bush, does what Clinton did at the beginning of his term. What Bush did to these eight was very different. Learn a little before shooting your mouth off.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | May 8, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"Every president, including Bush, does what Clinton did [fire U.S. attorneys] at the beginning of his term. What Bush did to these eight was very different."

Well put, koolkat_1960. It's become standard practice for an incoming president to fire US attorneys appointed by an outgoing president, especially from the opposing party, and appoint replacements. So, for example, Clinton fired en masse the attorneys appointed by George H.W. Bush, and upon taking office in 2001, George W. Bush fired the attorneys appointed by Clinton, and then appointed new ones. That's normal.

But it was very far from normal for Bush to fire several attorneys he had appointed, and that raises questions about what other motives may have been at work.

Posted by: CherieOK | May 8, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

So Gonzales isn't embarassed to appear in pulic? Can't be sure if its chutzpah, or just Gonzo's traditional obliviousness.

I suspect its the latter...that Gonzales still doesn't have a clue.

Posted by: Observer44 | May 11, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

I strongly object to the use of the word, Gonzo, in a context which does not include the late writer, Hunter S. Thompson. Thompson is a hero of mine, please don't debase his memory by applying his coined axiom, Gonzo, to the low-down snake in the grass that you have used it with here.

Posted by: Reboot9 | May 11, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

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