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Where There's Smoke, There's a Dumb Diplomat?

Can anyone with a passport and a pulse in this day and age really not know a couple of real-world basics?

-- you can't smoke on an American air carrier

-- you can't joke about terrorism.

The Qatari diplomat who evidently did both on a Denver-bound flight from D.C. is going to be a great punchline for the comedy circuit, but I'm a bit ticked off that his diplomatic immunity got him just a one-way [and presumably first class] ticket home to Qatar; I would have preferred that he'd also have to pay the tab for scrambling those F-16s that escorted the Denver-bound jet to the airport [although the flight DID arrive 25 minutes ahead of schedule ... ]

Here's what the Washington Post reported the Qatari ambassador had to say on the embassy website about the incident, an attitude that seems at best casual and at worst flippant.

"This diplomat was traveling to Denver on official embassy business on my instructions, and he was certainly not engaged in any threatening activity. The facts will reveal that this was a mistake, and we urge all concerned parties to avoid reckless judgments or speculation."

A mistake? No, Your Excellency. A mistake is leaving your water bottle in your carry-on bag. This 20-something was joking about terrorism If I'd been the one doing it, I would still be gazing at the decor of the federal pokey.

If this man is so unsophisticated or so arrogant that he doesn't know he can't smoke on a U.S. jet, or doesn't care, he's hardly suited for a job that, as the title implies, requires diplomacy.

Be sure to give a listen to my interview with California's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Here's why:

Because the Fourth of July won't be the only occasion for fireworks this summer -- now that Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has announced his retirement in time for President Obama to name a replacement for the autumn court session, the big, messy televised donnybrook that they call confirmation hearings will be as dramatic as any summer blockbuster movie.

And you can watch it at home, for free!

-- Patt Morrison