POTUS and plumbing

Pool Report No. 1
At Home Depot, Virginia


WASHINGTON ??? President Barack Obama skipped the links and the Commerce Department basketball court Sunday for a leisurely stroll through the plumbing fixtures section of a Home Depot in the Virginia suburbs.

Along for the unusual fact-finding mission was White House historian Vivian J. Trimchopper and General Services administrator Martha N. Johnson, accompanied by Ruth Cox, acting administrator of the GSA???s Pacific Rim region.

The four went directly to the porcelain sinks section, where they were greeted by Bruce W. McFlugelhorn, a customer sales representative. After some negotiating out of earshot of the in-town travel pool, the president appeared to select a Kohler Purist Round Vessel sink with Marazzi Montagna 2-inch Cortina porcelain sink rail trim. Both carry the lifetime warranty the GSA officials demanded. Trimchopper kept careful notes.

Next, the presidential entourage visited the shower-nozzle section where, after appearing to consult by cell phone with his wife, Michelle, the president selected a Moen single-spray 10-inch ???Raincan??? showerhead with an oil-rubbed bronze finish. The color seemed of some concern to Cox, who could be seen shaking her head in apparently overruled dissent.

Altogether, the president spent four hours and 12 minutes shopping at the hardware franchise, picking up a pack of 12 D-size batteries at the check out stand and shaking hands with shoppers such as Yolanda Q. Underwood, 46, an orthodontists assistant in Arlington, Va., shopping for robin???s egg blue paint for her mudroom. The president wished he good luck on what he called ???an ambitious project.???

In a statement to the pool in the garden department, standing on some $1.12 brick pavers with bags of Miracle-Gro Canadian sphagnum peat moss as a backdrop, Obama said:

"I want to thank members of the GSA who helped me upgrade some of the bathroom features in the private living quarters of your ???nation???s house,??? The White House over there on Pennsylvania Avenue. Perhaps you???ve wondered about the plumbing in that old house and I can tell you it???s just fine. But Michelle said, ???You know, we should upgrade some of these accessories,??? like people do before they sell a home, and so she sent me over here today.

"And let me say a word or two about Bruce McFlugelhorn, the Home Depot customer care expert. He knows porcelain, knows a thing or two about plumbing in Tahiti, Java and elsewhere in the Pacific Rim, and is a great American.???

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich sought to make hay out of the president???s remarks about upgrading the White House???s plumbing fixtures, saying: ???If he plans to sell the White House, I certainly hope he has consulted a Realtor.???

The various fixtures selected during Sunday???s foray were packed into a black SUV for the return trip to the White House, where a spokesman said the president planned to use the rest of his afternoon installing them.