* the state of emergency that was issued by French leaders in November to help quel the worst domestic unrest in decades.
* the medical emergency that sent Chirac to the hospital last September.
* the consistently high rates of unemployment that have dogged Chirac's presidency, including youth unemployment rates that are nearly double those of the U.S.
* the December poll by Le Journal du Dimanche showing that only 1 percent of the French electorate viewed Chirac as the best candidate from his conservative party for the 2007 presidential elections.
But, in spite of all these developments, Chirac has managed to find enough time to worry about some other important issues. This week, the International Herald Tribune (registration req'd) reported:
President Jacques Chirac of France tried to influence the casting of "The Da Vinci Code" in discussions with the director Ron Howard, promoting family friends for the lead roles, according to Newsweek and other media reports.
Sophie Marceau, 39, a star of "The World Is Not Enough," was reportedly touted by Chirac ... (for a) role ultimately won by the French star of "Amelie," Audrey Tatou ... Marceau is a close friend of Chirac's daughter Claude Chirac.