NICE CHRISTMAS GIFTS FOR LOYAL BUSHIES…. One might think the Bush gang will finally be gone on or around Jan. 20. Alas, a whole lot of these characters will be hanging around Washington quite a while longer, thanks to rewards from their boss.

As President Bush settles in for his last Christmas in office, he has been busy handing out presents to some of his top aides. And they are not the kind that require wrapping paper or a bow.

The White House announced on Wednesday the appointments of key members of the president’s inner circle, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, to high-profile boards and commissions. The Christmas Eve appointments will allow them to serve far beyond Jan. 20, the end of Mr. Bush’s term in office.

The White House said that the positions are unpaid, but appointees receive reimbursement for expenses and per diem compensation. They do not require Senate confirmation.

Ms. Rice got a spot on the John F. Kennedy Center’s board of trustees until September 2014. The position should guarantee her good seats at the performing arts venue for the next six years; she is currently an ex-officio member of the board.

Mr. Bush’s gift to Mr. Gutierrez: membership on the board of trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a research institute in Washington. Joining Mr. Gutierrez as a trustee is Barry Jackson, a former deputy to Karl Rove, who serves as assistant to the president for strategic initiatives and external affairs.

In all, two dozen White House officials were appointed to positions on government committees and councils, with terms lasting up to six years.

They’re bound to leave us alone eventually, right?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.