Barack and Julia
Julia Gillard has been in Washington, playing with a Sherrin Aussie Rules ball in the Oval Office with Barack Obama, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the ANZUS military alliance and fielding questions from American high school students about "what is vegemite?"
Like his close friend Oprah Winfrey, Obama pronounces the Australian prime minister's surname with the emphasis on the second syllable rather than the first, but I dare say she will forgive both of them for that small transgression.
Obama not only gave Julia Gillard face-time in the Oval Office, but accompanied her on a visit to a high school in Washington DC - an unexpected addition to the itinerary.
Here, it is probably churlish to bring up Julia Gillard's famous statement shortly after becoming prime minister about being more comfortable in a classroom with Australian kids than at international summits.
During her visit, she will also address a joint session of Congress, an honour bestowed only on America's closest friends.
For a leader who vowed to spend more time at home than her predecessor, it has been a good week for Julia Gillard to be out of country. A new poll suggested Labor's primary vote had plummeted to just 30%, its lowest ever figure. The previous record low came in 1993, when Paul Keating was prime minister.
Her personal approval rating has also dropped on the back of her handling of proposals for a new carbon tax, where she is widely deemed to have broken a pre-election pledge categorically ruling one out.
"There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead," she said ahead of the election. Labor is also set to take a walloping at this month's New South Wales election, where the voters are waiting with baseball bats.
So the still warm glow of Obama's star power must feel particularly comforting at a time when she is experiencing such an Arctic chill at home, even if their joint photo-opportunity looked a bit like watching an Aussie soap alongside a mega-bucks Hollywood blockbuster.
It is not the first time that Barack has helped Julia, although the previous occasion was wholly inadvertent. For I've long held the theory that were it not for President Obama's scheduling difficulties mid-way through last year, Julia Gillard would not have become prime minister so early in her career.
In one of those strange accidents of history, Obama was due to visit Australia last June on the weekend before Kevin Rudd was ousted as prime minister, but cancelled at the last minute to deal with the oil spill off Louisiana and Alabama. Had Obama come to Australia and lavished praise on Kevin Rudd that weekend, as he no doubt would have done, could the powerbrokers have moved on the prime minister with quite the same speed and ruthlessness? Such is the deference towards Washington that I suspect not.
But I digress. Obama publicly identified Kevin Rudd as the global leader with whom he felt most closely aligned, intellectually and philosophically, but in the end it did not do much domestic good for the former prime minister. At a time when she is reeling in the polls, will the "Obama effect" help Julia Gillard?
PS Thanks for your thoughtful comments to the same sex marriage post. One of the best threads for a while.