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Name-Calling in Its Purest Form

By Richard Leiby
The Washington Post
Thursday, February 24, 2005; Page C03

You're an Ashcroft! No, you're the Ashcroft!

Imagine hearing that exchange in a movie -- you'd think that Hollywood had come up with a crazy new insult. Well, it turns out that some airline passengers watching the Oscar-nominated film "Sideways" on foreign flights are, in fact, hearing "Ashcroft" as a substitute for a certain seven-letter epithet commonly used to denote a human orifice.

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The Post's Monte Reel, based in Buenos Aires, tells us he heard the former attorney general's name substituted at least twice in "Sideways" dialogue when he watched the film earlier this week on an Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Lima, Peru. The movie was shown in English and the dubbing was done "in the actual voices of the actors," Reel reports. Star Thomas Haden Church utters the A-word.

Profanity is typically cut from in-flight movies to make them suitable for general audiences, but how did the studio come up with "Ashcroft"? Hoping for enlightenment yesterday, we queried Fox Searchlight Pictures, the studio behind "Sideways." A spokeswoman initally e-mailed us to say she had "all the info" about dubbing, then failed to respond to our followup questions.

Ashcroft did not return our phone message, but we're certain he was busy and not just being an . . .

C'mon, Just a Few More Minutes of Fame?

• Trolling for a date: James Guckert (aka Jeff Gannon) is angling for an invite to the gala White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in April, saying his recent notoriety qualifies him as a great guest. "There is still time," he told Editor & Publisher this week. "There is always someone there trying to make news. Maybe this year it is going to be me." He also revealed that he's trying to line up paid speaking gigs, telling the trade mag: "There are people who are definitely interested in some of my behind-the-scenes work in the press room."

James Guckert (aka Jeff Gannon), looking for invites. (CNN)
Yes, this is the same guy who, after being linked to gay escort sites a couple of weeks ago, posted on JeffGannon.com: "In consideration of the welfare of me and my family I have decided to return to private life."

Meanwhile yesterday, Democratic Reps. John Conyers (Mich.) and Louise Slaughter (N.Y.) asked the Government Accountability Office to expand its investigation of illegal government propaganda efforts by looking into Guckert's work as a White House reporter for the Web sites Talon News and GOPUSA. They claimed the administration "gave prepacked print stories to Mr. Guckert, which he reprinted wholesale."

Bruuuuuce, the Lawyers' Poet

• Who knew Bruce Springsteen was such an inspiration to the lawyers of America? At a symposium tomorrow in Harrisburg, Pa., Widener University's law school brings together distinguished attorneys and legal experts -- including D.C. federal judge John M. Facciola, Georgetown prof Abbe Smith and Washington defense attorney Bernard Grimm -- to discuss the rocker's role as a "poet advocate." As the brochure says: "The American lawyer can resemble the poet from Bruce Springsteen's 'Jungleland,' who strives 'to make an honest stand.' "

The Boss will be there only in spirit. Grimm, a fan who grew up in Springsteen's home town of Asbury Park, N.J., tells us he's one of the few musicians who sing about "innocent people being locked up" and other injustices. As to whether the seminar is practical, Grimm notes, "I can't get up at a closing argument and recite poetry." On the other hand: "I had an occasion to quote Archie Bell and the Drells to a jury last week: 'Tighten Up.' '' He was referring to the need for more scrupulous evidence-handling by the cops.

Doug Wead Holds Off on History

Doug Wead, the former adviser to George W. Bush who stirred controversy by releasing excerpts of secret tapes he made of Bush several years ago, is contritely trying to make amends with the president. He says he'll turn the tapes over to the White House and donate to charity proceeds of his book, "The Raising of a President," in which he used the conversations.

Wead confirmed to us yesterday that he sent an e-mail Tuesday night to MSNBC's Chris Matthews, canceling a "Hardball" appearance and saying: "It would only add to the distraction I have caused to the president's important and historic work. . . . I have come to realize that personal relationships are more important than history. I am asking my attorney . . . to find the best way to vet these tapes and get them back to the president to whom they belong. History can wait."


• Beauty pageant czar Donald Trump and NBC are putting Baltimore on the map of sexy places. They announced yesterday that Charm City will host the Miss USA pageant on April 11 (with a live broadcast from the Hippodrome Theatre), while on May 30, the Miss Universe pageant will air from Bangkok. Both events will be hosted by "Access Hollywood's" Billy Bush and Nancy O'Dell.

With Anne Schroeder

© 2005 The Washington Post Company