US election diary

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* Henry Paulson, the US Treasury Secretary, is being courted by Barack Obama. Shouldn't Mr Obama's team first interview Mr Paulson's mother, Marianna? On Sunday, she gave BBC Radio 4 listeners an intriguing insight into how Hank goes about things. "He [Hank] told his brother, if you don't pick it [the skunk] up I won't be friends with you anymore. It was terrible, just terrible. It happened quite a distance away and we knew long before the boys reappeared what had happened. His brother picked it up and it sprayed, but then he said, 'Well they can't spray twice so get it'. And so they grabbed it again, and again it sprayed!" It doesn't end there. Peter Jenny, an old friend, revealed on the same programme that Mr Paulson is fascinated by birds of prey. "Birds of prey are athletic, they're under incredible environmental pressures, they are reliant on their own individual abilities for survival," he said. "This could equally be describing Hank."

* Sarah Palin's passport is less than a year old, but before the foreign policy know-it-all Joe Biden gets to debate her on 2 October, Governor Palin is catching up with foreign leaders at the UN this week. Today she meets Afghanistan's President Karzai and Colombia's President Uribe. Tomorrow she meets Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Pakistan's newly-minted President Asif Ali Zardari. There will be a blizzard of handshakes for Mrs Palin, including from Georgia's Mikheil Saakashvili, Ukraine's Viktor Yushchenko and India's Manmohan Singh. But the highlight must be meeting the born-again secular pope himself, Bono of U2.

* Old Washington hands joke about being around long enough to remember when Joe Biden was bald. Barack Obama's running mate has never revealed how or when he went from bald to hirsute but years after the "procedure", hair is still playing on his mind. Shaking hands in New Hampshire the other day he told a British student: "If I had your hair, young man, I'd be President."

* The fleet of 13 cars owned by John and Cindy McCain, are getting the Republican candidate into trouble. John recently bragged in a TV interview in Detroit, home of the US motor industry: "I've bought American literally all my life and I'm proud." But it turns out that the McCains own a foreign-made Lexus, a Honda and a Volkswagen convertible, and their daughter Meghan has a Toyota Prius. A spokesman helpfully explains that the senator was referring to the one car in his name: a Cadillac. "And [he] has in the past driven Corvettes and other American cars."