Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cell Phone Serenade Annoys Bush

Brrring. Brrring. "Hi, Mom? Now is not a good time . . . " Ring tones plagued President Bush yesterday when he was interrupted at not one but two of his public appearances.

First a cell phone disturbed a speech by Vietnamese Prime Minister Phan Van Khai during a joint news conference with the president in the Oval Office.

Ann McFeatters , a reporter for the Block News Alliance, told The Post that Bush obviously noticed the ring but stared straight ahead while the crowd swiveled to see who had committed the faux pas. "It was impossible to tell whether it was coming from a Vietnamese reporter or one of ours," she said.

Next, Bush ventured to the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to swear in Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Unfortunately, that building also had cell service: A phone interrupted the ceremony, but this time the culprit, a sound technician, was identified. "The poor guy, he nearly dropped the pole he was holding to turn it off," said McFeatters. "It was one of those musical rings."

After the event, the president sent a White House aide to tell the mortified technician it was rude. "Bush gets very upset when cell phones go off in his presence," McFeatters noted. "He just hates it."

Can you hear him now?

Cancer Scare for Eleanor Mondale

Eleanor Mondale , daughter of former vice president Walter Mondale , has brain cancer.

"It's bad, but not that bad," she told the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Monday, hours before beginning her first round of radiation and chemotherapy at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "I've got a really good chance to beat it."

The 45-year-old said she suffered two seizures during a May 16 camping trip. Tests revealed two tumors in her frontal lobe. Mondale will endure up to seven weeks of oral chemotherapy and radiation, which will either rid her of the tumors or reduce them to a size that can be removed safely.

Last Wednesday, Mondale married Chan Poling , a rock musician.

Waiters Serve Lawsuit

They just can't stop serving: Three waiters who claim they were fired because they're French have handed a posh New York restaurant a $5 million discrimination lawsuit.

In the suit, made public this week, Rene Bordet , 68, Jean Claude Lesbre , 63, and Yves Thepault , 68, said 21 Club's management falsely accused them of drinking wine during work and created "an environment rife with anti-French sentiment."

The trio also allege that managers "made fun of Bordet's French accent" and "expressed glee" that "President Bush hated the French." Bordet and Lesbre worked at the restaurant for 10 years and were fired in 2004 under accusations of drinking on the job. Thepault, a waiter there for 14 years, was fired this year after an argument with the chef over a hamburger.

21 Club spokeswoman Diana Biederman told The Post that the restaurant has several staff members who are French. She would not comment on the lawsuit but released the following statement: "We are an equal-opportunity employer, treat everyone fairly and do not discriminate against our employees."

The four-story 21 Club is one of Manhattan's most expensive restaurants, frequented by politicians, business leaders and celebrities.

-- Compiled by Korin Miller from staff and wire reports

© 2005 The Washington Post Company