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The Reliable Source

Washington's Social and Political Scene

Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 10, 2005; 12:00 PM

After a 25-year career as a distinguished editor, feature writer, investigative reporter and war correspondent, Richard Leiby has never, ever won the Pulitzer Prize. Now he's found his life's calling as a gossip columnist. He'll take your tips, chew the fat, discuss the dish and babble in cliche-ridden prose right here once a week.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Richard Leiby: My peeps: I wish we had some news and/or gossip to dish today, but frankly I'm out of material to write about in this sleepy little town. Also, I'm a lazy cuss. I only wrote two columns this week. What can I say? I just don't wanna write about feuding Rap Artists or Paris Hilton's hacked cell phone. The politicos remain utterly boring. The Washingtonienne hasn't surfaced again. There are no sex scandals.

Some people assumed I'd quit this week and finally turned the column over to Anne, who richly deserves the opportunity to torture herself trying to fill space on a daily basis. (Kidding: We love Anne and wouldn't want her to suffer...too much.)

Anyway, now it's all up to you guys. Give me some dish or I'll have to resort to writing about a 40-year-old film somebody in Florida discovered, featuring Jim Morrison.


Republican American Extravaganzas R Us!: Re: "Capital Crusaders: It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Congress!"

What a neato idea!!

Hey, boys and girls!! Let's spend some quality discussion time on other correctly inspired show titles we can expect to see, okay!?

Wait ... I've got some right here!

"Golly Geepers: It's Our Infallible President!"

"Make Mine Vanilla! With Red, White, and Blue all Over!"

"Washington, Mayberry RFD!"

Awwwww ... I dunno ... it's just too hard to top the wonderful job our honorable Republican congressman doing to uphold standards of decency, fair play, and The American Way!!

Let's just give 'em a well deserved round of applause and leave it at that! Oopsie ... I mean and don't forget to pray for 'em too!

P.S. And don't forget to take your meds, boys and girls!

Richard Leiby: Thanks for the suggested political revue titles. For those who are clueless, please read my lead item today about Kitty Kelley being booted, allegedly after Republican pressure, from appearing at the annual Arena Stage benefit on April 11.

Incidentally, Quidnunc fans should know that I've agreed to join the cast of "Capital Crusaders," as the revue is titled. My role will be Tired Old Hack. Very much looking forward to swapping lines with the likes of Sens. Dick Lugar and Ted Stevens, and Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Jim Kolbe. But there's more! Nina Totenberg of NPR, Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard and Roll Call's Mort Kondrake will be exploring their inner thespians as well.

Please check out the Arena Stage website at www.arena-stage.org for more exciting info about this event. Support the arts. Support a Tired Old Hack. Thank you.


Frederick, Md.: Wise and Mighty One with supposedly buns of steel, please tell us that Michael Jackson will be OK and that he'll be able to return to his playland utopia. The world needs a freak!

Richard Leiby: Given the O.J. precedent, it's quite possible that M.J. will skate. So I suggest you pack a tooth bush and PJs and put in your call now for a future "Barely Legal" sleepover.

Actually you don't need to pack an overnight bag. I know someone who stayed at Neverland with his kids in the '90s, and he told me that Michael Jackson plants toothbrushes and PJs all around the place to encourage sleepovers. So when a kiddie whines, "Please, Daddy, let me stay over, it'll be SO FUN," M.J. helps out the parents by supplying a handy Neverland sleepover kit!

Not sure if "Jesus Juice" is included.


Norco, Calif.: Over and over one reads in the media's public opinion section that President Bush cannot and does not tell a lie. Their rationale is that the president makes statements based on the advice and guidance of others.

Where does responsibility and accountability fit into that?

Richard Leiby: No lie, but I can't recall ever reading that about the Prez. Is he the new George Washington or what? ("I cannot tell a lie: I chopped down the Cherry Tree and once was a fan of the Doobie Brothers, if you follow my drift.")

As for responsibility and accountability, remember, we're dealing with POLITICIANS here.


Bethesda, Md.: Hey, I have an award for Angelina Jolie ...

Richard Leiby: Sorry, I can't deal with your fetishes right now: There's BREAKING M.J. news!

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (Reuters) - The judge in Michael Jackson's child molestation case issued a warrant for the entertainer's arrest Thursday after Jackson failed to show up for his trial.

Jackson's attorney's explained that the 46-year-old entertainer was in the hospital with a back problem.

Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney Melville said he would hold the arrest warrant for one hour to give Jackson time to show up in court.

[No explanation on how poor Michael threw out his back...but I think we really don't want to know.]


Washington, D.C.: Please, Deborah Norville underwent 24 hours of home confinement to see what Martha is going through? I mean, is she kidding?
My drinking habits keep me on 24-hour home confinement at least once a week and it's a piece of cake. Hasn't she ever heard of X-Box and Funions?

Richard Leiby: I think the remedy for your drinking problem is either:

1) A night out with me and Anne, who will drink you under the table and prove you're not such a BIG BOOZER MAN (assuming you are a man);

or 2) A sleepover at Neverland. Lots of "Jesus Juice" will cure you, and I'm sure M.J. has X-Boxes aplenty.

As for Deborah Norville: I'm going to emulate her and spend the next 24 hours living at the Smith Point bar in Georgetown to find out what it's really like to be a Bush Twin.


Life Imitates Fiction: Jeff Greenfield almost perfectly imitated one of the most hilarious sophomoric bits in a Naked Gun Movie, where Leslie Nielsen after making some remarks at a luncheon for the Queen of England visits the urinal with his mike still on, whistling and grunting and yelping through his men's room visit.

Richard Leiby: You're not the only one who picked up on that. I've seen "Airplane" but not "Naked Gun." I'm going to run out and rent it today and expose my kids to it. (They're run out of "Three Stooges" and "Monty Python" episodes.)

Obviously I want my kids to be as juvenile in their tastes of their father, so "Naked Gun" it is!


Baltimore, Md.: What's this about a 40 year old film featuring Jim Morrison. 1965 was well before the Doors first album was released. The deal, please?

Richard Leiby: See below.



By Jim Loney

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida historians have discovered a 40-year-old film clip of a clean-cut Jim Morrison that will give fans a different view of the Doors singer before his wilder days as a drug-using rock legend who drank hard and died young.

The 1964 black-and-white public relations film, shot at Florida State University (FSU) shows a nerdy-looking Morrison, a rock bad boy who died in 1971 at 27 years old, acting the part of a young man whose university application has been rejected.

The 16-minute video has Morrison among wholesome scenes of college life, parades and football, a sharp contrast to his image as a long-haired, leather-clad rebel poet accused of exposing himself and simulating a sex act at a Miami concert in 1969.

"It's incredible. He's so clean-cut and soft-spoken," said Jody Norman, archives supervisor at the State Library and Archives of Florida, and a Doors fan.


OK, anybody out there witness the "sex act" in Miami and want to share?


Virginia: DID Teresa Heinz Kerry changed her name to Teresa Heinz? She is still complaining like she missed more about the First Lady position than the loser.

Richard Leiby: That rumor isn't credible, so far as I've been able to determine. It was first reported, to our knowledge, in the Washington Times, a very objective local newspaper. We checked it out. She's still Teresa Heinz Kerry.


Hey!; Credit your source!;: I wrote in about the Jackson warrant. You should give me and Der Spiegel our due!; Hmph.

Richard Leiby: Don't get snippy or I'll unplug your T1 line. I have that Power.


Falls Church, Va.: Richard, What ever happened to that whacko shrink psychiatry professor from GW who was going to psycho-analyze the great unknowable W?

Richard Leiby: Hey, I never called the doc a whack-job and he is by all accounts a well-credentialed shrink and professor. I wrote about Dr. Justin Frank's book, "Bush on the Couch," last June. He wasn't "diagnosing" Dubya, but we was making some assumptions based on the public record regarding the Prez, including the notion that GWB never fully grieved the death of his baby sister when he was a boy.

Here's the top of my original item:

We can assure you nobody will be caught perusing this book in the White House. "Bush on the Couch," authored by a longtime Washington psychiatrist who has never met or treated the president, offers "an exploration of Bush's psyche" that delves into such touchy topics as his baby sister's death, his relationship with his mother and father and his drinking history.

In the book, to be released Tuesday, Justin A. Frank, a clinical professor at George Washington University Medical Center, claims President Bush exhibits "sadistic tendencies" and suffers from "character pathology," including "grandiosity" and "megalomania" -- viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable. Frank told us yesterday that his opinions are based on publicly available materials, adding, "I've never met the president or any members of his family."

A Democrat who once headed the Washington chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Frank concludes in the book: "Our sole treatment option -- for his benefit and for ours -- is to remove President Bush from office . . . before it is too late."


Washingtonienne: Not a sighting, but her book (titled "The Washingtonienne: A Novel") is going to be released on June 1. Saw it on Amazon.

It appears to be a roman a cleft and is marketed as beach reading. I smell a ghost writer!;

Richard Leiby: Thanks for the update. Last I heard from Washingtonienne, a couple of weeks ago, she just wanted to let us know that she is not hanging around D.C. and "sightings" of her are Bravo Sierra (as they say in the military).

Roman a Cleft? That's an Italian dude with a sculpted chin, I guess. Great Ceasar's Ghost! Maybe she channeled him?


A loathing and fearsome place, Pa.: Did you ever meet Hunter S. Thompson?

Richard Leiby: No, but I was a fan of his earlier work, which inspired me to try Wild Turkey. But I discovered I'm not a brown liquor fan. Tequila: Now we're talkin'.


Ratheris, Miss.: So Dan Rather's farewell last night will cause him to be remembered for one word: courage. If you were to be remembered by one word, what would it be? What would you like it to be?

Richard Leiby: Cheney.


Kaloramatizzle, D.C.: Your Most Quidliness,
As a tribute, could you please regale us with a story of your finest gonzo journalistic hour? Pretty please?

Richard Leiby: Okay, I'll try, but I, unlike the good doctor and Rush Limbaugh, rarely worked while high. I will publcly reveal here, for the first time, what happened one night in 1980 or 1981, after it became clear that I was denied a Pulitzer Prize despite my exhaustive reporting on schemes by the Scientology cult to take over the town of Clearwater, Fla. (where I then worked).

My editor failed to submit my work and the St. Petersburg Times won the Pulitzer. I took out my frustrations in a very novel way. It involved micturition in the general direction of the St. Pete Time's building. Yes, I was blasted at the time. Maybe that was the night I tried Wild Turkey.


Washington, D.C.: Nuncy-

I assume you have seen Wonkette's "fashion spread" in the April issue of "Lucky" magazine? I am very disturbed by this. She is supposed to be my guide for a week of dressing - yikes. I think you need to do an expose.

And remember, death or glory, just another story.

Richard Leiby: I saw it and it reminded me of some sort of Barbie swap-an-outfit game. (Maybe not Barbie, but you know: Now she's a TWA stewardess! Now she's a hot CPA! Now she's a blogging vixen!)

I'm not going to do an expose (unlike Jim Morrison) because I want the Wonkette eternally on my side.


Dayton, OH: Quid,
I have relatives who attend church services with Senator DeWine (R-OH) -- whose D.C. office was the erstwhile employer of Washingtonienne. You can bunk on my futon if you come out to ambush him.

Richard Leiby: Thanks. I'm gonna need a job in Dayton and that futon after my editors read about my Hunter S. Thompson moment...


Arlington, Va.: So what IS the frequency Quidnuc?

Richard Leiby: That's QuidNUNC. And the frequency is Radio Clash.


washingtonpost.com: Wonkette "Lucky" Photos


Alexandria, Va.: You've run out of questions?

Where did you get your nickname from?

Richard Leiby: I started using it when I began the chat more than a year ago. Somebody evidently being monitored the Secret Service sent me a fan letter addressed: "To the new Quidnunc."

Being a graduate of Temple University, I had no idea what the word meant. But I've since learned that it roughly translates from the Latin as "busy body," or someone who knows "what's happening."

Or maybe "Fo shizzle."


Monterey, Calif.: Quick support group comment:

A Tired Old Hack you are not. Just wanted to be sure you heard it loud and clear from the fan club.

And a question:

You have kids? How many and how old?

Richard Leiby: Are you a stalker or just a member of an al Qaeda sleeper cell? (Or maybe you're setting up your own Neverland sleepover cell?)

All I want to say is that my kids are old enough to appreciate iPods and "Monster Garage."

My eldest just burned me a CD including the following bands: The Postal Service, Reindeer Section and I Am Kloot.

They keep me young. And I love them more than anything in this world.


Arlington, Va.: I have to confess; I just don't get the continuing fascination with Hunter Thompson. Certainly, I'm sorry he's gone, and the manner of his death is especially sad. His writing, though, was self-consciously arch to the point of almost being impenetrable, and I don't understand why so many people always remained so devoted to him. Is it that Thompson was perceived as living out youthful fantasies of anarchy and drug use that other writers had to give up as they got older and settled down?

Richard Leiby: Yes.


Outrageo,US: How many more tricks can MJ possibly pull to stay out of court?

Richard Leiby: Personally I'm waiting for the Indian Rope Trick, in which Michael rises magically from the courtroom like a fakir -- or is it faker?


Lawrence, Kan.: Is being the Reliable Source a punishment? What did you do? When will you be eligible for parole?

Richard Leiby: I won't lie: I'm in the process of negotiating my "rendition" to Saudia Arabia, because I'd prefer that torture and the solace of being a "ghost detainee."


Rockville, Md.: Quid, what kind of tie are you wearing today?

Richard Leiby: It's got a Gustav Klimt pattern but no nekkid women or anything.


No, I am kloot!;: Postal Service, Reindeer Section and I am Kloot are all available free and legal on www.epitonic.com, along with hundreds of other bands you should hear.

Richard Leiby: It's good to know that they're FREE. My daughter's iPod cost me like $300 bucks. Kids today...


Anonymous: Do we know what Kitty Kelley is working on next?

Richard Leiby: Dunno. I just called Kitty and left a message. I think she's taking a breather after 4 years of toil on the Bush book. We'll get back to you on that next week.


Annapolis, Md.: MJ made his way to the courthouse 5 minutes late.

Richard Leiby: WHY DO PEOPLE CARE? Really. Shouldn't we all be focused on the appointment of John Bolton as U.N. ambassador?


Philadelphia, Pa.: Re: The Lizard King's film -- How disappointing, I was hoping it might have come from a Miami evidence locker so it could be "exhibited" in theatres with the new Deep Throat documentary...

Richard Leiby: Right. But hopefully they'll find that on-stage footage one day and whip it out, so to speak.


Washington, D.C.: From the other, more respected Post (of NY):

ACTION hero Bruce Willis (above) got some action of a different kind after the screening of his new blood-and-guts flick, "Hostage." At an after-after-party at the Peninsula Hotel early yesterday, Willis, who turns 50 this month, and teen queen Lindsay Lohan, 18, enjoyed a mutual gropefest. "At one point, Bruce had Lindsay's pants down far enough to reveal a tattoo that said 'La Bella Vista'- (The Beautiful View) on her right cheek," says our spywitness. Eventually, Willis and a few friends, including Lohan, took the party upstairs to his suite.

Richard Leiby: Sigh. Now we've resorted quoting other, real "gossip" columns. But sadly it's the best we can do.


washingtonpost.com: Amazon: The Washingtonienne: A Novel


Silver Spring, Md.: What is Anne wearing today? Did she find out who that guy was who said she owed him a drink?

Richard Leiby: Actually, I haven't even NOTICED what Anne's wearing, but I think pants are involved. As for her personal life: No comment, but some dude keeps calling her every 15 minutes these days. Either he's a phone stalker or it's Lurv.


Munich, Germany: Condi dressed in black with high heels...

On behalf of Europeans everywhere, who is Condi's man? Who is the competition?

Richard Leiby: I'm gonna tell the little what I've heard about Dr. Rice's "man," but it's not been vetted. I've heard she's been escorted here and there by a longtime friend from Stanford who was, I believe, either a football coach or Athletic Director. And he is now in a big job at the NFL. But I don't have a name at the moment.


Silver Spring, Md.: Will you be interviewed for Tina Brown's book on Princess Diana?

Richard Leiby: I certainly hope so. Lady Di and I were tight, fo realizzle.


Bethesder: So, do we sense a yearning for a return to the hard news beat? Where will it be: somewhere dusty and barren, somewhere humid and sweltering? Or do we aspire to something more Silvia Porgioli, such as Rome?

Richard Leiby: Frankly, I would love somewhere dusty and barren again, even if it's Iraq. But Rome would be nice too. I'd like to sit and gaze at the Pantheon again some evening and imagine myself being enshrined there: Quidnunc, the Tired Old Hack.

Inscription: He tried his best, but his best wasn't Good Enough.

We'll have more news next week, I promise. And maybe even some "gossip."

Thanks, all.



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