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The Bush Twins' (Fake) Public Figures

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

Is presidential daughter Barbara Bush following through on her previously announced intentions to work with HIV-afflicted children overseas? We hear that she held a going-away party in Washington last week to announce her move to Africa, but details were sparse -- and the White House yesterday declined to comment, citing its policy of not discussing the private lives of Barbara or her twin, Jenna.

During her father's campaign, Barbara expressed interest in working for a pediatric AIDS program at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, helping HIV-positive children at clinics in Africa and elsewhere. Mark Kline, the doctor who directs Baylor's AIDS initiative, told us yesterday: "We'd love to have her join us, but we haven't heard a thing. . . . We made an offer to Barbara about a year ago, but at this point she hasn't confirmed that she is going to work for us."

Jenna and Barbara Bush
Jenna and Barbara Bush
Now that's some Photoshopping! Maxim created this fake image of the Bush twins as an early April Fool's prank. (Maxim)

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Meanwhile, we can confirm that the 23-year-old twins have not become pinup models, despite a photo that's circulating on the Internet. In an early April Fool's prank, the saucy magazine Maxim is promoting a doctored shot of the sisters in lingerie in the issue that hit newsstands yesterday.

Executive Editor James Heidenry tells us that pictures of 25 models and various shots of the twins were blended to create the image. First lady Laura Bush's press secretary, Susan Whitson, who handles queries about the first daughters, had no comment on the spoof. Well, just one: "Needless to say, the White House does not receive a subscription to Maxim."

Their Outlook In Baghdad: Fair, Clearing

• Off the Wanted List in Baghdad: Two American supporters of Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon's once-beloved Iraqi politician, are celebrating the dismissal last week of obstruction-of-justice charges brought against them in Iraq during the reign of U.S. viceroy L. Paul Bremer.


Ahmed Chalabi supporters Margaret Bartel and Francis Brooke hold up an Iraqi judge's order dismissing the charges against them. (Special to The Washington Post)
The outspoken pair -- Francis Brooke, who served as Chalabi's top political aide in Washington for several years, and Margaret Bartel of Alexandria, a consultant who handled Pentagon funds for Chalabi's political party -- say the charges were trumped up following a U.S.-backed raid on the controversial Iraqi's headquarters last year. An Iraqi judge agreed.

"Peg and I are free people in Iraq," Brooke e-mailed us from Baghdad, where he's still advising Chalabi, the suave ex-banker who lobbied the White House to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Brooke attached the order throwing out the charges, which he argued were fomented by occupation officials as part of a "political vendetta" after Chalabi fell from favor with the Bush administration.

Brooke, 43, and Bartel, 52, were charged with interfering with the well-publicized raid, which was carried out by Iraqi police, U.S. troops and police trainers from Reston-based Dyncorp. The defendants not only denied the allegations but also pointed out that they were in Iraq working on a Defense Intelligence Agency-funded program to provide intel and documents to coalition forces.

"The raid was to discredit Chalabi," said Bartel, who braved a trip to Baghdad to answer the charges. And she remains a loyalist, telling us: "Chalabi is someone we feel is good for the United States and for Iraq."

SQUIBS

• As much as it pains us to write about another boldface-name spotting at Cafe Milano, the Georgetown restaurant is fit for kings. Literally. Jordan's King Abdullah II dined with friends Monday night a few feet away from Constantine II, the former king of Greece, who was eating with his family.

• Now don't take this personally, but producers for NBC's weight-loss reality show, "The Biggest Loser," are combing the Washington area this week for families (mom, dad, two kids) and engaged couples who want to drop their poundage together. Interested persons of heft can call 323-251-0297 or e-mail castingnbc@yahoo.com.

• Not so fast: Contrary to earlier reports, Sharon Bush, the still-aggrieved former wife of President Bush's brother Neil, has rejected a proposed settlement of a $950,000 slander lawsuit. The suit, accusing her of spreading rumors that Neil Bush fathered a child out of wedlock, was filed by Robert Andrews, whose former wife , Maria, is now married to Neil Bush. DNA testing last year showed that Neil did not father the boy, then 3, and that he is Andrews's son -- but Sharon Bush is disputing the accuracy of the tests.

The Annals of Puffery

• "As the cold season continues to drag on, Americans were asked in a survey conducted by the Quigley Corporation, makers of Cold-Eeze lozenges, which celebrity mother they would most want to take care of them while home sick. According to responses, Michael Keaton as 'Mr. Mom' just edged out Clair Huxtable [ Phylicia Rashad] on 'The Cosby Show' (34 percent vs. 32 percent). Sexy 'Desperate Housewife' Teri Hatcher as Susan Mayer came in third with 17 percent of the votes."

With Anne Schroeder


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