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An Early Clash of the Titans

By Richard Leiby
Thursday, February 3, 2005; Page C03

Donald Rumsfeld "arrogant"? Perish the thought, but Vice President Cheney once believed it. A Republican operative's new book dishes colorful anecdotes about the prickly early relationship between two of Washington's most powerful figures.

Craig Shirley, author of "Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All," tells how Cheney, a congressional fellow in the late 1960s, interviewed for a position in then-Illinois Rep. Rumsfeld's office. "We didn't hit it off," the vice president told Shirley in an interview for the book. "He was arrogant, abrasive, I thought, and he thought I was an air-headed intellectual."

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Things went better, Shirley writes, when the two met in 1969 after Rumsfeld became head of President Richard Nixon's Office of Economic Opportunity. Again, young Cheney was applying for a job, this time waiting in a crowded conference room when a secretary called out, "Is there someone named Cheney here?" He was escorted to Rummy's office.

Cheney recalled: "He looked up for a minute, and then he looked back down at his desk and he said, 'You, you're congressional relations,' " the job Cheney wanted. " 'Now get the hell out of here!' "

After more than 30 years, we can only assume they're the best of pals now.

Landlady Says Reporter Did a Number on Her Condo

• New York Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee's party-throwing penchant and unusual byline earned her a lot of buzz when she worked in Washington. Now her former landlady, in a lawsuit filed yesterday, claims that Lee's "raucous" shindigs in 2003 and 2004 -- where the guests included congressional staffers, pundits and other reporters -- caused nearly $148,000 in damage to her Washington condo.

Beth Solomon says her baby grand piano "was used as a wet bar and taken apart" at a tenant's parties. (Courtesy Beth Solomon)
"It looked like 'Animal House,' " said Beth Solomon, a PR rep who rented Lee the $2,900-a-month, two-bedroom apartment near the Washington Convention Center for 20 months. "There was urinating and defecating on the property, vomiting on the stairways. The kitchen was destroyed, the floors were destroyed, my baby grand piano was used as a wet bar and taken apart."

The suit, filed in D.C. Superior Court, says Lee entertained "crushing crowds," even setting up a smoke machine for a Halloween bash in the penthouse unit. Other tenants complained that revelers showered beer on their units, the suit alleges, and also feared that a roof had been set ablaze "by guests throwing sparklers and cigarette butts on it."

Lee, 28, would not comment yesterday on the allegations but did tell us, "I like Beth Solomon a lot and hope we can settle in a way that makes her happy." Larry Bank, an owner of the Newmark real estate brokerage here who is familiar with the case, said, "If there is damage, it's awful hard to say that Miss Lee did all of it."

A Harvard grad and former Washington Post reporting intern, Lee has been described by friends as an aspiring grande dame for the younger set. A New York Sun article last year about her Washington parties was headlined "Meet D.C.'s Hostess of the Mostest."

Lee's Taiwanese parents gave her "8" as a middle name because it's a lucky number. Bank suggested that being sued may only boost her image. "She's made a reputation of having parties and being a socialite," he told us. "This probably isn't hurting Miss Lee, it's probably helping her."


John Fox Sullivan, publisher of the National Journal, aspired last night to turn the Great Hall of the Library of Congress into what he called "a giant greenroom," inviting hundreds of members of Congress, staffers, lobbyists and journalists to eat and drink before the State of the Union address. Amid the partying throng, we asked Sullivan where he intended to watch the president's crucial speech. His eyes widened. "I've watched about 25 of them; do I have to watch another one?" he said, laughing.

• Author Christopher Buckley's 1995 big-tobacco satire, "Thank You for Smoking," is headed for the big screen: Robert Duvall, William H. Macy, Aaron Eckhart, Katie Holmes and Adam Brody have roles. Filming is underway in Los Angeles and moves to Washington in mid-March.

• Tsunami relief update: Tonight at the popular Home nightclub, 911 F St. NW, college students throw a "Do Your Part Party" in hopes of raising $40,000 for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. DJ Iacko and DJ Mixalis will spin. It's a $15 donation for those with college ID and $20 for the older folk.

• Publisher Jason Binn's luxe quarterly mag, Capitol File, which launches this fall, will have a familiar political name on its masthead. Jamie Biden, 22, Sen. Joe Biden's nephew and a recent Georgetown grad, has signed on as its associate editor.

With Anne Schroeder

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