Paying for the inauguration
I thoroughly enjoyed the ceremonies of the presidential inauguration, but I have several acquaintances who felt them to be needlessly extravagant in light of the ailing economy. Are there figures available for the net amount of funds actually paid out for this inauguration?
The inauguration festivities for Barack Obama cost about $45 million, according to published reports, which is about 7 percent more than the $42 million spent for the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2005. The 1993 inauguration of Bill Clinton cost about $33 million, as another point of comparison.
Your friends might have been reacting to reports that the tab for the Obama inauguration was in the neighborhood of $160 million, with some in the media wondering why Obama's was going to cost four times more than Bush's.
That number, while not confirmed, is an apples-to-oranges comparison. It includes the costs for all festivities as well as security, cleanup and the holiday for federal workers.
For the 2005 inauguration of Bush, the New York Times has reported, the federal government spent about $115 million in non-entertainment expenses. That would bring the 2005 total to about $157 million.
Height of power
How tall are Michelle and Barack Obama? How tall are Laura and George W. Bush?
Michelle Obama told the women of The View that she is 5 feet 11 inches tall. Laura Bush is 5 feet 4 1/2 inches tall. George W. Bush's official height is 5 feet 11 inches, making him shorter than Barack Obama, who is 6 feet 1 1/2 inches tall.
Abraham Lincoln, 6 feet 4 inches, was the tallest president, and James Madison, 5 feet 4 inches, the shortest.
Clint behind the wheel
We just saw Clint Eastwood's movie Gran Torino. In real life does he smoke, and was that car really his own?
Eastwood does not smoke. As for the car, it's his now. The 1972 Gran Torino was purchased for the movie from Salt City Classic and Muscle, a Vernal, Utah, dealership. Larry Stelling, transportation coordinator for the movie, saw it on the dealer's Web site and went out to close the deal. Incidentally, Eastwood drove a Gran Torino in Magnum Force, the second Dirty Harry movie, in 1973.
'Dirty Sexy Money' not renewed
What happened to Dirty Sexy Money and when will they finish the episodes?
ABC has decided not to order more episodes of the comedy-drama. Four installments have not yet been televised. An ABC rep said that no air date has been set — nor have they been put online.