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Reliable Source - Richard Leiby

Bubba, Is That You??

By Richard Leiby
Wednesday, April 13, 2005; Page C03

Weirdness on the Potomac, Part 1: Frighteningly loyal readers may recall our dispatch of nearly a year ago that began: "A life-size cardboard cutout of Bill Clinton wielding a saxophone has mysteriously disappeared from a Pentagon office in an episode that further assures us that Washington is a very strange place."

Indeed. We've just received a breathless update from Russell Beland, the Navy official who thought he'd never see his precious Bubba cutout again. The other day he moved into a new office. "And there, standing among the unpacked boxes and overdue action items was Bill Clinton with his saxophone," Beland tells us. "He is now wearing an Elvis-style white jumpsuit with lots of bling, but it's clearly Bill, and still as two-dimensional as before."

Life-Size Cardboard Cutout of Bill Clinton
Life-Size Cardboard Cutout of Bill Clinton
(Robin Groom - The Washington Post)

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But the mystery deepens. Further investigation revealed it was not the cardboard Clinton that went missing last May, but a different version. Persons unknown within the military establishment seem to be sending a message to Beland, a Navy deputy assistant secretary who, besides lording over manpower matters, is known for obsessively entering the Style Invitational. (He won the first Clinton as a prize.)

The evil genius behind all this -- how do you sneak the Elvis likeness of an ex-prez through the Pentagon? -- remains at large. "Just as the original disappearance was unsolved, so too is the appearance of the new Bill," Beland said yesterday. "He is in mint condition, leading me to suspect that he was purchased for just this purpose, but everyone here is pleading ignorance."

Subway's Jared, Chewing the Fat

• Jared Fogle, the formerly obese Subway shill, was making the rounds on Capitol Hill yesterday to promote the American Heart Association's program encouraging kids to eat better and exercise more. "In the hallway, I ran into Barack Obama," he told us excitedly. "He recognized me before I recognized him."

Turns out the Democratic senator from Illinois is "a big Subway fan," said Fogle. They posed for a picture and the hoagie pitchman later offered this endorsement of Obama's physique: "He looks amazing!"

And what of other lawmakers? "I didn't see any excessive" fatties, said Fogle, 27, who shed 245 pounds by eating nothing but Subway sandwiches for a year. "In general they look pretty good." Guess it's all that scurrying to stressful hearings and those very demanding VIP receptions with lobbyists.

Holy High Jinks, Batman! Politicos Gone Wild on the Hill

• Weirdness on the Potomac, Part 2: Members of Congress look so fetching when they prance about a theater in red and blue capes. A capacity audience bore witness to that spectacle Monday night when politicians adopted superhero personas to perform at a benefit for Arena Stage's youth outreach program. Their scenery-chewing star turns in "Capitol Crusaders" raised $300,000, the biggest haul in the benefit's 13-year history.


Rep. Mark Steven Kirk . . . or his alter ego, the Appropriator! (Scott Suchman)
Players included Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) as Captain Intelligence, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) as the Honolulu Hulk, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) as the Texas Tornado, Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) as the Brooklynator, Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) as the Appropriator and . . . well, you get the idea. The setup: Because regular superheroes such as Superman and Batman are tied up at a "galactic harmony" seminar put on by tennis coach Kathy Kemper's Institute for Education, the pols have to reveal their secret identities to save Washington -- and the world -- from a cabal of supervillains. Celeb broadcasters including Kojo Nnamdi, Nina Totenberg, Jim Vance, Doreen Gentzler and Holly Morris got to ham it up too as they narrated the offstage mayhem ("Rioting broke out in Cleveland Park when residents learned of spreading caramel macchiato shortages").

Full disclosure: We donned a black cape for our role as Gossip Man, but kept insisting on being called Captain Reliable, and worked with the forces for good. "Congressmen saving the world?" snorted Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.), a caped Bipartisaniac. "You know that's bull."

SQUIBS

Britney Spears is really, finally, fer-sher pregnant. We assume Kevin Federline is involved. The end. For now. On a sadder and completely unrelated note, Joaquin Phoenix is being treated for alcoholism at an undisclosed rehab center, his publicist said yesterday.

• Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) is getting divorced from his wife of 14 years. Feingold, 52, who's been mentioned as a possible contender for the presidency in 2008, and wife Mary Feingold, 47, said in a statement: "We are separating amicably and intend to remain very good friends." The marriage was the second for both.

Judith Regan, whose fabulously successful HarperCollins imprint has published books by celebrities as diverse as her former squeeze Bernie Kerik, porn star Jenna Jameson, slugger Jose Canseco and Gen. Tommy Franks, plans to move her publishing and media group from Manhattan to Hollywood. "I'm not interested in moving to L.A. to do movie star books," Regan told the New York Times in yesterday's editions. She said she still intends to crank out 100 books a year but will expand her TV and film projects.

With Anne Schroeder


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