It's lonelytown at the White House this week! Vice President Joe Biden is running around Afghanistan while President Obama works on a pair of speeches. But there is something else missing. Something familiar. What could it be? 

Robert Gibbs!

After announcing last week that he would be leaving the White House in February to consult on Obama's re-election campaign, the spokesman has largely disappeared. No more briefings. The podium is gathering cobwebs, and the briefing room is a cold, echoing chamber of sorrow.

Meanwhile, names continue to circulate as possible candidates to replace him. Beltway today spied the dapper Richard Wolffe emerging from the West Wing -- that seems like a long shot. The speculation about Major Garrett sounds like someone's idea of a joke. (Nothing against Major -- just extremely unlikely)

Former DNC spokeswoman Karen Finney's name surfaced -- fab Finney is a former Hillary Clinton deputy press secretary and a commentator on MSNBC. But she has two, big strikes against her: She is a woman and this administration operates like a guys' club, and (gasp) she is tight with Howard Dean, a leading administration antagonist. 

Is it still down to deputy press secretary Bill Burton and Jay Carney, the spokesman for Biden? Who knows.

One thing we're hearing is that new chief of staff, Bill Daley, is taking a lead role in picking the new guy -- in much the same way that Josh Bolten, former President Bush's then-incoming chief of staff picked Tony Snow to replace Scott McClellan in 2006. And Snow was a surprise choice at the time, meaning anything can happen.

But probably not Major Garrett. Seriously -- who started that?