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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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February 11th, 2014
05:26 PM ET

Why is there no U.S. Ambassador to France?

Washington (CNN) – The climax of French President Francois Hollande's three-day state visit comes Tuesday night, with a black-tie state dinner at the White House. The Obamas have only held six state dinners ever.

The menu tonight is designed with that certain flair, that certain je ne sais quois that the French love: caviar, garden salad, dry-aged rib-eye, and a choice of dessert.

Actor and current Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper is on the state dinner guest list. Turns out, he speaks French.

But you know who isn't coming? The U.S. Ambassador to France. You know why? Because we don't have one.

In years and administrations past, the ambassador to France is a role that goes not to a career diplomat, but to the president's biggest fundraisers.

The last one, Charles Rivkin, formally left the post on November 19, 2013. The position has remained open because the White House has had a tough time vetting these fat cats.

Take Marc Lasry, a hedge fund manager and top Obama fundraiser whom the president picked for the post. He was suddenly out of the running in April, amid reports that he was connected to an alleged poker ring run by the Russian mob.

Among those who passed the vet, of course, are the President's nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, who has never been to Argentina, and others with similar qualifications.

All of whom of course have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the President and his party.

Now, there is one idea for assuring nominees get a smoother path to ambassadorship, one that might even help find an ambassador to France. It's kinda radical. And maybe a little crazy: They could always try nominating someone qualified.

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