Before we go any further, an important note: The people on this list are those who required Senate confirmation plus Vice President Mike Pence. So, no White House chief of staff Reince Priebus who deserves honorable mention for this gem: "We thank you for the opportunity and the blessing that you've given us to serve your agenda and the American people."
"I actually arrived back this morning at 1 o'clock from Italy and the G-7 summit focused on the environment. And our message there was the United States is going to be focused on growth and protecting the environment. And it was received well."
I admire Pruitt slickly getting the whole I-work-super-hard-and-super-late thing into a short statement. But, this was WAY short on direct praise for the President. Do better, Pruitt!
22. Defense Secretary James Mattis
"Mr. President, it's an honor to represent the men and women of the Department of Defense. And we are grateful for the sacrifices our people are making in order to strengthen our military so our diplomats always negotiate from a position of strength. Thank you."
A nice sentiment. But nary a word of direct praise for Trump's commitment to the military.
21. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly
"In the five months that I've been at the job, we have gone a long way to facilitate the -- improve the legal movement of people and commerce across our borders, yet at the same time, we have gone a long way to safeguarding our borders, particularly the southern border, working with all of our partners to the south."
A clear appeal to Trump's ego by citing the gains made across the southern border. But, heavier on policy than praise, to be honest.
20. US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer
"First of all, I apologize for being late to work. I got bogged down in that swamp that you've been trying to drain."
I am going to use this excuse the next time I miss a TV hit. (Related: I am on TV and, therefore, a big deal. Many leather-bound books.
19. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
"Thank you for the honor to serve the country. It's a great privilege you've given me."
"Great privilege?" Good. But not great.
18. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon
"I've been traveling around the country, and what I'm continuing to hear is this renewed optimism from small businesses."
This started out with promise. A better ending to this sentence would have been "and people are crediting it all to you."
17. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats
"It's a joy to be working with the people that I have inherited, and we are going to provide -- continue to provide you with the very best intelligence we can, so you can formulate policies to deal with these issues."
"Joy" got my hopes up. But I wound up, ultimately, disappointed.
16. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
"Mr. President, as your SEAL on your staff ... it's an honor to be your steward of our public lands and the generator of energy dominance (ph). I am deeply honored."
As a general life rule, I am not in the business of messing with SEALs.
15. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
"It's a privilege to serve, to serve the students of this country, and to work to ensure that every child has an equal opportunity to get a great education, and therefore a great future."
You had me at "privilege to serve."
14. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross
"Mr. President, thank you for the opportunity to help fix the trade deficit and other things. The other countries are gradually getting used to the (inaudible) the free rides are somewhat over with. They're not happy with this, but I think (inaudible) growing recognition that (inaudible) have a chance to help you live up to your campaign promises."
"Live up to campaign promises" is music to Trump's ears.
13. Energy Secretary Rick Perry
"America is not stepping back, but we're stepping into place and sending some messages, that we're still going to be leaders in the world when it comes to the climate, but we're not going to be held hostage to some executive order that was ill thought out. And so, my hat's off to you for taking that stance and presenting a clear message around the world that America's going to continue to lead in the area of energy."
Affirming Trump's decision on the Paris climate accord will endear Perry to Trump. But he missed a real opportunity to say "my cowboy hat's off to you."
12. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson
"Mr. President, its been a great honor to -- to work with you. Thank you for your strong support of HUD and for all the others around this table that I've worked with."
11. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta
"I am privileged to be here. Deeply honored, and I want to thank you for being -- your commitment to the American workers."
"Deeply honored" > "great honor." Take note, Dr. Carson.
10. Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin
"Mr. President, thank you for your support and commitment to honoring our responsibility to America's veterans. I know that this is personally very important to you."
This was already good but the "personally very important" line turned it up to 11.
9. UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
"It's a new day at the United Nations. You know, we now have a very strong voice. People know what the United States is for, they know what we're against, and they see us leading across the board. And so, I think the international community knows we're back."
Haley isn't always on the Trump message. But she was today!
8. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin
"It was a great honor traveling with you around the country for the last year and an even greater honor to be here serving on your Cabinet."
Not sure if you guys know this but Mnuchin traveled around the country with the President for a whole year. Beat that!
7. CIA Director Mike Pompeo
"Mr. President, it's an honor to serve as your CIA director. It's an incredible privilege to lead the men and women who are providing intelligence so that we can do the national security mission. And in the finest traditions of the CIA, I'm not going to share a d*mn thing in front of the media."
This one had a lot: a) "honor to serve" b) "incredible privilege" and c) media bashing!
6. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
"Mr. President, last week was a great (inaudible). It was infrastructure week. Thank you so much for coming over to the Department of Transportation. Hundreds and hundreds of people were just so thrilled, hanging out, watching (inaudible) ceremony. "
People loved you. [Inaudible]. All of them.
5. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
"We are receiving, as you know -- I'm not sure the rest of you fully understand -- the support of law enforcement all over America. They have been very frustrated. They are so thrilled that we have a new idea that we're going to support them and work together to properly, lawfully fight the rising crime that we are seeing. ... The response is fabulous around the country."
You don't even KNOW how much people love you, Mr. President.
4. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney
"Thanks for the kind words about the budget. You're absolutely right: We are going to be able to take care of the people who really need it. And at the same time, with your direction, we were able to also focus on the forgotten man and woman who are the folks who are paying those taxes."
Thanks for being absolutely right, Mr. President. And the "forgotten man and woman" line was just the cherry on the top there, Mick.
3. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue
"I want to congratulate you on the men and women you've placed around this table. ... This is the team you've assembled that's working hand in glove with -- for the men and women of America, and I want to -- I want to thank you for that. These are -- are great team members and we're on your team."
Check out the new guy!
2. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price
"Mr. President, what an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership. I can't thank you enough for the privileges you've given me and the leadership that you've shown. It seems like there's an international flair to the messages that are being delivered. I had the opportunity to represent the United States at the G-20 Health Summit in Berlin and at the World Health Assembly in Geneva. And I can't tell you how excited and enthusiastic folks are about the United States leadership as it relates to global health security."
Incredible! Honor! Leadership! Privileges! Excited! Enthusiastic!
1. Vice President Mike Pence
"It is just the greatest privilege of my life is to serve as the -- as vice president to the President who's keeping his word to the American people and assembling a team that's bringing real change, real prosperity, real strength back to our nation."
Still. The. Champ.