Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is fast becoming one of President Obama’s most influential cabinet bosses, and not just because he’s in charge of doling out billions of stimulus dollars. Yes, he tells Whispers, it’s fun playing Santa Claus to states and cities around the nation. But his passion now is switching off that glow in the hands of so many drivers: those cellphones and BlackBerrys lit up as people text and drive—and sometimes crash and die.
“We are hooked on these machines,” says LaHood, a former Illinois Republican congressman. “It’s somewhat like an addiction to tobacco or alcohol,” he vents.