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Mr. Bush follows with 59 percent approval, tied with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Former President Bill Clinton remains popular with 56 percent of the country; Vice President Dick Cheney with 51 percent; Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, 48 percent; Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean 31 percent; and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, 29 percent.

Been there

We’re told that Americans finally are ready to elect a woman to be president of the United States. But can a woman stand up for herself and her country in this increasingly hostile world?

Thanking UNESCO Ambassador Louise Oliver this week for her leadership on behalf of this country, first lady Laura Bush noted of international diplomacy: “It might be a tough job, but for a mom who’s raised five children, dealing with 189 countries is probably a piece of cake.”

Safety with Shaq

Miami Heat center and National Basketball Association all-star Shaquille O’Neal will be sworn in as an honorary deputy U.S. marshal this evening when he ducks beneath Capitol Hill.

The honor coincides with Mr. O’Neal’s becoming a national spokesman for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation. Justice Department Administrator J. Robert Flores, of the Office of Justice Programs, will administer the oath in the presence of congressmen and other invited dignitaries.

An estimated 77 million children surf the Internet today, and the FBI says there’s a good chance that one day they will encounter a sexual predator in a chat room.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or