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Richard Leiby
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 21, 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.

This Week's Columns:

Kindred Spirits (Post, April 21)

Brendan Fraser, Swinging in a Different Jungle (Post, April 20)

'My Sharona,' Revealing A Knack for Current Affairs? (Post, April 17)

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: Quidnunc (aka Mr. "What Now" ) at your service. So what's on your minds today? Drilling in the ANWAR? The stalled Negroponte nomination and Bush's spirited defense of his UN nominee? The continuing assaults by the Iraqi insurgency?

Or the fact that Anne is wearing a skirt today instead of pants?

We report. You decide. And we somehow all survive.

(I think that's only slightly better than Judy Woodruff's "rap" in today's column...)


West Coast: What are your favorite conspiracies, LEFT OR RIGHT WING? Clinton was hounded by Mellon Scaife, who hired 15 P.I.'s to dig up dirt in Arkansas on Bill. What lefties have paid for investigations of DeLay? I'm curious.

Richard Leiby: Happy to list some of my fav Right-Wing conspiracies: Saddam was behind 9/11 -- the "two Ramzi Yusefs" theory; Vince Foster was really murdered; Delta Force "assassins" were operating at Waco debacle, and there was federal involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing.

Lefties gave us the personal indiscretion investigations of Republican politicos during the Clinton impeachment, the alleged CIA-cocaine connections, and many more I can't quite recall. I've also loved the UFO coverup conspiracy-mongering from persons of all stripes.

Haven't heard of any Left-funded probes of Tom "Captain Exterminator" DeLay...but earlier this week Don Imus implied that some weird, kinky stuff was afoot. Here's the transcript, which I was going to print in my column but my esteemed colleague Al Kamen beat me to it:

Don Imus [regarding DeLay]: He is a weird little dude, though, isn't he?

Sen. Rick Santorum: He is not a weird dude. He's actually a very good guy. You know he has very strong convictions, which I certainly admire. He's willing to stand out there and say what he thinks.

Imus: He just looks like a guy, I may not know him --

Santorum: Go ahead, Go ahead, Make fun of how he looks.

Imus: He just looks to me like a guy who probably has some kind of weird, kinky sexual thing going on.

Santorum: I don't think that's appropriate to talk about the majority leader of the united states house of representatives that way.

mus: Or a United States Senator. As we observed earlier this morning...this is not the "today" show and so i apologize. I'm just telling you what I think.

Santorum: And you'll now apologize to him after you said that?

Imus: Yes. I don't know, he just looks weird to me.



State of Confusion: Quidnunc,

While I usually attempt to submit something with an edge to it or at least a Clash reference, I have a regular question today regarding Peter King's "joke" about Hillary.

I guess I don't get it at all. I know it has the elements of a joke: Hillary, the pope, ambition, etc., but it isn't constructed like one. So why all the laughter and was Hill steamed about it?

Richard Leiby: For those who missed it Wednesday, here's the squib:

• Awaiting a puff of smoke over the White House? "Maybe we can elect Hillary Clinton pope. God knows what she's running for," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) joked to roars from the crowd when he appeared with the senator yesterday at a Construction Trades Council breakfast in New York.

Why funny? Does a joke need to be properly constructed to be funny? Ask Weingarten -- that's not my field of expertise. I liked it because the idea of a Democratic Non-Catholic Female Pontiff just seems, uhh, incongruous? Also, people tend to laugh at anything a politician says so long as he isn't droning on about Social Security reform.

Hillary was at the event. And she took it totally in good fun, because she's friendly with Rep. King.


Frederick, Md.: Last week, John Kelly told us that all you wear are purple capes. All along, you were leading us women to believe that you were an all-man, stud-muffin, lusty piece of meat. Sooooo disappointing!

Richard Leiby: It's an unfounded allegation! I only wear purple when attending Prince concerts. Speaking of capes, here's a photo we didn't run last week, featuring Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.)at the Arena Stage benefit.

Sorry, rear view only!



Credit: Scott Suchman
Photo courtesy: Scott Suchman


Norfolk, Va.: You tell us what Anne's wearing, but won't post a picture. You rhapsodize about her boundless appeal, then refuse to forward our messages to her. Why must you torture us so?

Richard Leiby: Because I'm aspiring to a position working for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales! Hahaha.

Aso, we simply have no "fresh" pix of Miss Anne on file.


4:20: I always thought 420 was the police code for marijuana possession. Potheads smoke on this day (or time) as an act of defiance. At least all the ones I've come across.

Richard Leiby: I have no personal experience with this, but did some research a few years back and discovered .... ummm, what was the question again?

Oh, yeah: Research confirmed the popularity of a 4:20 p.m. light-up time.

Please, people, don't bogard your own 4:20 theories. And remember: Pass the kootchie from the left-hand side!


What?: Imus called out people because they look weird? This from a man who described himself as "forty miles of bad road."

Richard Leiby: Noted. Pot Kettle Black (which is a GREAT song by Wilco, too!)


Iowa: Other well-worn conspiracy theories -- The black helicopters, the second shooter on the grassy knoll, and the End Times are upon us (which may be true since Ann Coulter is on the cover of TIME this week).

Richard Leiby: Speaking of conspiracies: On left-winger Stephanie Miller's show I've been hearing a lot of chatter about that Ann Coulter photo and her alleged Adam's apple. I actually haven't seen the Time cover yet, but Ms. Coulter is in town tonight for the Media "Dishonors" event sponsored by haters of the Liberal Media. (Details TK.)



Cape Canaveral, Florida -- Deep Space Communications Network (www.deepspacecom.net) has been contracted to send the first live Whale songs into deep space by the Sirius Institute located in Puna, Hawaii, on Earth Day,April 22nd, 2005.

"We feel it is important to invite the Cetacea (dolphins and whales), the oldest sentient race on the planet, to our Earth Day celebration and share their songs with the universe" said Dr. Michael Hyson, Research Director for the Sirius Institute.

Humpback whale songs were part of the recording that were included on gold discs sent on the Voyager Spacecraft but this is the first time that live whale songs will be transmitted into space.



Virginia: "Pass the kootchie. ..?" I always thought it was "Pass the dutchie." Wow. And I graduated from high school in 1983. Fairly pathetic. Now I'm counting the minutes until 4:20.

Richard Leiby: The original song was by the Mighty Diamonds, who used the term Kootchie. It was sanitized by those kids who covered it and substituted "Dutchie," which I believe refers to a cooking implement in Jamaican patois.

But I'm no ganja expert, because I've only been to Jamaica 10 times.

Take heart: Only four hours till 4:20.


Washington, D.C.: Hey Quid,

On Sunday, Paul Haggis, Brendan Fraser and Michael Pena were at the AFI in Silver Spring to preview "Crash" for the rest of us proletariat. They were all truly gracious. A real class act.

Especially that dishy Brendan Frasier, who is quick and funny, and signed, posed, and personalized all the stuff that people handed to him. Even when some of the waiting people were acting like jackasses.

Plus, he held my hand. Chastely, I hasten to add, in case his lovely wife is reading.

Richard Leiby: I too chatted with Brendan "Dudley Do-Right" Frazier and am delighted to report that he did not hold my hand. However, he was indeed quite gracious and answered all my questions about the movie "Crash," in which he plays a politically expedient LA District Attorney -- who's married to Sandra Bullock!


washingtonpost.com: Brendan Fraser, Swinging in a Different Jungle (Post, April 20)


Bogard?: Didn't know there was a slang term inspired by ole Dirk. Perhaps you meant:
bogart. verb
Definition: to selfishly take or keep something; hog
Etymology: probably from Humphrey Bogart, U.S. actor
Usage: slang; bogarted, bogarting

Richard Leiby: Thanks or the clarification. But of all the gin joints in the world, did you have to come into mine?


washingtonpost.com: Mighty Diamonds


Del Rio, Tex.: Hey, maybe when Don Imus was partying with his brother Fred when Fred lived in Del Rio, and future Governor Kinky Friedmann would come along, maybe they ran into Tom DeLay in their travels ...

Richard Leiby: Maybe so but it sounds like a kootchie-inspired conspiracy theory to me, aka Pipe Dream.

As for Kinky, who's running for Texas guv, I love this quote he gave recently in a magazine called The Ruminator:

"I think America has become wussified, and Texas is the last stand against wussification."


Iowa City, Iowa: Yeah but today is the 21st, so 420 means nothing. You're 24 hours too late.

Richard Leiby: Wait: Today is THURSDAY? Never mind, man.


Washington, D.C.: FYI, Kurt Loder and Hugh Jackman are both excellent porn names. Dick Leiby? Not so much. Tnx.

Richard Leiby: HAHAHA. And for the record, I think the best porn name in town belongs to my friend Jake Tapper, the ABC News correspondent.


Greenville, S.C.: As long as we are asking for clarification, is "Negroponte" Latin for Bolton when you use it, or am I missing something about the future national intelligence director?

Richard Leiby: Yes, I meant BOLTON. Michael Bolton.

That's what I get for rising at 4:20 a.m. and still thinking it was Wednesday.


Arlington, Va.: You seem to be extrememly intelligent -- about history, current events, politics and pop culture. Before you leave The Gossip Game behind, could you please author Quidnunc For Dummies?

Richard Leiby: Thanks for the kind words and that suggestion. By the way, Captain Reliable still has a few more chats left in him. I'll be at the helm of the RS into May. For more about me and my work on the Gossip Beat, see this link:



washingtonpost.com: Campus Progress


washingtonpost.com: Time Magazine/Ann Coulter Cover


Elsewhere: My favorite bit of mary jane trivia: a "spleef" I believe comes from the Dutch phrase alstublieft ("if you please") which is used when handing someone something, and that includes passing a joint. It usually comes out sounding like, "spleef."

Oh, and da, da, da, I don't love you, you don't love me.

Richard Leiby: Dude, I think you're high! But that's alright because obviously you're a fan of Trio. My fav by those German minimalists was "Drei Mann in Dopplebett." (Three Men in a Double Bed.)

And so long as they're all wearing purple capes, there's absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with that!


Pittsburgh, Pa.: Back when the world made sense -- at 4:20 in a park in Ann Arbor, wearing short shorts and a halter top, playing frisbee, sipping rum spiked Coke, ahhh Mighty One, those were the days. You made that bit up about the scum sucking Beetles didn't you?

Richard Leiby: Absolutely not! Cornell put out a press release about the scientists who named the beetles. Here's that Sunday squib, for those who hate back-linkage:

• Axis of Beetles: Three new species of slime-mold beetles have been named after President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In what they call a tribute to the trio's courage and commitment to freedom, entomologists Quentin Wheeler and Kelly B. Miller -- who recently had to come up with names for 65 newly discovered species of the beetle -- picked the monikers Agathidium bushi Miller and Wheeler; Agathidium cheneyi Miller and Wheeler; and Agathidium rumsfeldi Miller and Wheeler. Other slime-beetle namesakes include Pocahontas, Darth Vader and the scientists' spouses.


Norfolk, Va.: Followup to my earlier post: Uh, it's called a "digital camera," Pa Walton, and it can pretty much instantaneously take "pictures" of Anne, which you can directly "post" on the "Internet." Even during your "entertaining" chat.

Richard Leiby: We could do that, sure, but it would send Rocci the Webmaster into a frenzy.


Iowa: Brendon Fraser is a good guy -- even came to the hinterlands to introduce a documentary during the Kerry campaign last fall. Try to think of Gods and Monsters instead of George of the Jungle.

Richard Leiby: Okay, I will. Wait. My pocket is vibrating! It's my cell phone.


That was an ultra-hip magazine publisher named Jason Binn calling. Binn recently jumped from a black SUV in downtown traffic, ran up to me on the sidewalk and snapped my photo with a digital camera. Perhaps he should take over this chat!


Life's Calling?: Don't you think you should change the intro to your chat, seeing as you will soon be leaving your "life's calling" for something else?

Richard Leiby: Yes. We'll endeavor to do that next week. I'm going to make it "London['s] Calling."


Iowa: Re Ann Coulter's TIME cover -- reportedly she was upset that it showed so much leg (crossed they were, thankfully). Don't want any Sharon Stone moments for the the high priestess of right-wing invective.

Richard Leiby: I'm told me have the Coulter picture on the site now, which is very exciting. Have we got any pix of Michael Bolton testifying about John Negroponte?


Rosslyn, Va.: Quid,
I see your still here ... Good. Any person that actually understands Zippy the pinhead can't be all bad. My question, do you think Michael Jackson will be acquitted?

Richard Leiby: No.


washingtonpost.com: Time Magazine/Ann Coulter Cover


Nowhere Man!: I understand the Kinstah and G.W. are friends? I'm crushed as I've enjoyed Kinky's books and songs like " Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed" and "They don't make Jews like Jesus any more. How is the heavy-drinking and cocaine use playing in the governor's race?

Richard Leiby: I know that Laura Bush is a fan of Kinky Friedman, but I don't know about Dubya. And I can't vouch for the allegations you raise regarding coke and booze...

But as candidate Kinky tells the Ruminator: "It'll be up to the people of Texas."

Who, incidentally, elected Gov. Bush. Twice, if I recall...

And I think he became Prez or sumthin'. Let's hope it's a trend and Kinky gets to the White House.


Washington, D.C.: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back it up -- beep, beep, beep.
Ryan Seacrest is getting a star on the Walk of Fame? This is worse then those medals that ninny gave to the other ninnies.

Richard Leiby: Well, George Tenet didn't dance on any tabletops at Blue Gin in Georgetown, either.

Does that make ANY sense?


Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: "Maybe we can elect Hillary Clinton pope. God knows what she's running for," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) joked.

The joke is that her Senate term brings her up for reelection in 2006, but she acts as if she's running for president in 2008.

Richard Leiby: Duh!


Bethesda, Md.: For the record it's warm enough for shorts and a halter top in Ann Arbor on 4.20 less than half the time. Remember the cold is a good antidote for Michigan nostalgia.

Richard Leiby: I frequently suffer from bouts of Michigan Nostalgia myself, having spent a fine 10 months there as the Mike Wallace Fellow in Investigative Journalism at the University of Michigan. I had a class called "Successful Attack Interviews 101."

But you're right: In Michigan it's 10 months of winter and two monts of bad sledding.


Bethesda, Md.: London! Is this true; it's your new assignment? Hey everybody, party at Leiby's new place in London! Book your flights now. If he will have us now that he is once again a Serious Writer. Imagine, 1,000 Reliable Source fans showing up in London while you are trying to interview Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair about incremental steps toward a revised plan for the implementation of ... snoooore.

Richard Leiby: Not, I am not going to London. That was a glib and obligatory Clash reference.

But I wouldn't mind China at this point.


Alexandria, Va.: When you detach those annoying subscription cards in magazines, do you also obsessively detach the card on the other side of the fold? I do.

Richard Leiby: I think we'll have to end on that wonderfully absurd note, not only because I'm out of time, but because I have to go have lunch with Mary Matalin at the Palm. I'll ask her about her mag-insert removal methods. Promise!

Quid over.


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