04/21/2004 at 12:00 AM EDT
While George W. Bush cabinet appointees face approval hearings, one member of the president-elect's Texas team definitely won't be making the move to Washington: Ernie, the Bushes's frisky orange and white cat. "Ernie is more of a free spirit," said Bush aide Gordon Johndroe, comparing the fully clawed Ernie to India Bush, an older, more sedate -- and declawed -- female cat. India will be at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., as will be Bush dog Spot, an English springer spaniel (whose mother was the late Millie, George and Barbara Bush's pen-wielding dog, who wrote a White House memoir), and the new Christmas puppy Barney, a black Scots terrier. Meanwhile, over in the Clinton menagerie, it now appears that current White House pets Buddy the chocolate Lab and Socks the black-and-white cat are headed for Splitsville. (Word is, there's was never a copacetic relationship to begin with.) Socks, reports USA Today, is expected to be adopted by Betty Currie, President Clinton's secretary. Buddy, a late 1997 addition to the family, will reportedly divide his time between the Clintons' $1.7 million estate in Chappaqua, N.Y., and their new $2.85 million digs on Washington's Embassy Row.