Ambassador Oprah?


Financial Times columnist Gideon Rachman's "well-placed sources" are telling him that Barack Obama might be thinking of an outside the box pick for ambassador to London... Oprah Winfrey.

Rachman acknowledges the idea sounds ridiculous, but there is a tradition of major campaign donors being rewarded with ambassadorships. I have to say, though, this would probably be a worse career move for Oprah than for Obama. If the world's most-powerful celebrity really wants to get involved in international diplomacy, there are probably more effective and enjoyable ways she can go about it on her own.

Rachman is one of the 10 foreign-policy experts FP enlisted to choose a "dream team" for the next U.S. president's cabinet. While all of the experts gave well-reasoned and thought-provoking choices, he seemed to have the most fun with the concept. Check out his pick for ambassador to Russia.

Think you can put together a better team than these out-of-touch political elites? Go for it. There's a write-in space, so feel free to nominate Oprah for any cabinet position you'd like.


Champagne loses its fizz as economic bubble pops

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The party's over. As the economy fizzled out and the housing bubble burst, champagne sales fell 2.6 percent in the first half of this year, compared with last year. It's the first time sales of bubbly have declined since 2000, according to the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne. In the United States, sales fell 22 percent in the first half of 2008.

There are at least a couple of places where people are still heartily toasting success, however: Russia, where champagne sales increased 158 percent last year, and China, which had a 74 percent increase amid the growing popularity of wine there.