Richard Nixon had an energy czar during the oil crisis, and Bush p?re had a drug czar during the war on drugs. Now, with 2.8 million jobs lost since 2001, the White House is hiring a manufacturing czar: Albert Frink Jr. (left), the founder of Fabrica International, a luxury carpet and rug maker in Santa Ana, Calif.

The post has proven unusually difficult to fill. Bush's first pick -- Anthony Raimondo, a Nebraska agricultural equipment manufacturer -- withdrew his name when it was disclosed that he laid off 75 workers in 2002 (about 17% of his work force) and opened a factory in Beijing.

Even if his confirmation is a breeze, Frink's new job promises to be thankless. Sen. John Kerry has joked that the czar gig "is the only job in manufacturing that [Bush has] created." At a pancake breakfast in Ohio recently, Bush himself sounded pessimistic about the manufacturing sector, saying that "some manufacturing jobs are going away," and workers have "to be retrained for the jobs of the 21st century."