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Obama's 'Beast' limo suffers another overseas malfunction

For a vehicle that goes by the fearsome name "The Beast," Barack Obama's presidential limo has had its fair share of run-of-the-mill car trouble.

Today we learned that Obama is down a limousine for his trip to Israel after his armored Cadillac refused to start. The Beast runs on diesel, but whoever got the crummy job of having to fill up the tank for the president used gasoline instead -- forcing the car to be towed away from a gas station in Jerusalem ahead of the president's arrival. And yes, an eight-ton limousine does look strange on the back of a flatbed truck.

That weight -- and the car's low clearance -- made for difficulties on another state visit, when the Beast got stuck on a ramp as it tried to leave the U.S. embassy in Dublin in 2011:

But fear not: Obama will continue to travel in style this week. A spare limousine, one of a fleet of as many as 25, has arrived, and just drove him away from the president's residence in Jerusalem, where he planted a magnolia tree with Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Update, March 25: The Secret Service told FP that the limousine was not accidentally filled with gasolene instead of diesel, but that they have not yet brought the limousine back to the United States to determine the cause.

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

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In Israel, Obama finds new way to not pick a favorite ally

I've written before about the linguistic contortions U.S. leaders go through to express the depths of their bonds with close allies -- be it Australia, Britain, Canada, or Japan -- without elevating any one country above the others. There's the "the United States has no stronger ally than ____" model, which places the referenced nation in a good-natured tie for first place with several other special relationships, and the "one of our strongest allies" approach. On Wednesday, Obama took a particularly ingenious tack upon arriving in Israel. Before characterizing the alliance between the two countries as "unbreakable" and "eternal," he declared:

Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages -- to be "masters of their own fate" in "their own sovereign state."  And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.

See what he did there? Change "your" to "our" and a host of furious no-stronger-allies would be knocking on Washington's door. But, as Obama's speechwriters are well aware, it's probably fair to say that Israel received a visit from its closest partner today.

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