George Clooney: America's Sexiest Policy Wonk

George Clooney doesn't hob-nob with celebrities anymore. His new social scene is a bit more influential than the likes of Brad and Angelina.

On Monday the actor stopped by the White House for a chat with President Obama, and later took the highly unlikely step of announcing a major diplomatic shift in American policy toward Darfur

“[The White House] said they would appoint a full-time, high-level envoy that would report directly to the White House,” Clooney told reporters.

That's right: the actor who started in a two-bit role on "The Facts of Life" is now telling the country what's what.

Clooney, an Oscar winner and a U.N. Messenger of Peace, said he asked the president to appoint a full-time Sudanese envoy who will report directly to the White House, and to ask China to set aside its business interests in the region and pressure Sudan to prevent atrocities in Darfur.

“[They] assured me that Darfur is one of a small handful of foreign policy reviews being taken at the senior-most level,” Clooney said. ""They assured me and wanted me to assure the rest of whoever it is that is listening that this is high on their agenda."
Clooney said he delivered 250,000 postcards gathered by the Save Darfur organization to the president and vice president Monday and that both were receptive to his ideas.

"This would be a huge policy step," Clooney said. "It's good to hear because there was some concern that this could fall off the radar."

Clooney's request comes around the time that the International Criminal Court is scheduled to rule on whether to proceed with an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for crimes in Darfur.

Clooney recently visited the country — his sixth trip to Darfur, this time with journalists Nicholas Kristof and NBC's Ann Curry — but had his visa denied.

Kristof wrote in his column last week that the U.N. pulled Clooney's security escort during the trip, "apparently concerned that Clooney might say something strongly critical of Bashir — perhaps come down hard on genocide?"

Asked if he discussed any other foreign policy issues with the president or vice president, Clooney laughed. "No, I'm not there as some policy nut,” he said. “I was just there to tell them what I saw and hope that there was some way that I could amplify anything that they were doing.”

Then the not-so-nutty actor went on a media tour, Larry King included, touting the new White House policy.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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