For Some Gals, Home's Not Necessarily Where the Crown Is

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, January 19, 2006

With the Miss America Pageant coming up Saturday (in Las Vegas for the first time, after abandoning its longtime Atlantic City home), it's time to review our local contenders and ask -- well, are these ladies really local?

Our transient community, after all, is a popular destination for tiara-hungry pageant hoppers who didn't have much luck in their home states. There's somewhat less competition, to put it gently, in the wonky Washington area than in big-hair preserves like Texas and Mississippi.

Our suspicions were raised when we noted that Miss Maryland Rachel Leigh Ellswort h listed as her home town . . . Fort Ashby, W.Va. But a call to Allegany High School in Cumberland, Md., established the 21-year-old tap dancer's bona fides.

"She graduated here in 2002," said office staffer Melissa Guthrie , adding that Ellsworth served as cheerleader and student government treasurer. At press time no explanation could be found for the Fort Ashby address -- could have something to do with her graduate nursing studies at West Virginia University.

She'll be facing off (at 8 p.m. on CMT) against another tapper -- Miss D.C. Shannon Schambeau , whose Florida high school and college diplomas set off major alarms here. Indeed, the 25-year-old got her MBA from Florida's Saint Leo University in May, just two months before she earned her D.C. crown; further record checks indicated she competed for Miss Florida in the five previous years, maxing out as first runner-up.

Yet colleagues at the D.C. headquarters of Special Olympics -- where spokeswoman Kirsten Suto said Schambeau's been working in the legal department "for about a year" -- happily claim her for the city.

But when it comes to local , we're going to have to give the crown to Miss Virginia Kristi Lauren Glakas , who has spent her entire life in NoVa, graduating from Centreville High School and now finishing premed studies at George Mason University.

Glakas, who cinched the state title by singing Martina McBride 's "A Broken Wing," also has a long track record in Old Dominion pageantry, having also won Miss Virginia Teen USA in '99 and Miss Virginia USA in '04. "We're all real happy," her father, Glenn, told us from Vegas. "We'll see what happens Saturday."

It's an Undiplomatic War of the Words

First lady smackdown! On the right, the usually oh-so-diplomatic Laura Bush. On the left, the outspoken Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At a Martin Luther King Jr . tribute Monday, the junior senator from New York told a Harlem audience that Republicans were running the House of Representatives "like a plantation -- and you know what I'm talking about." Mrs. Bush has been traveling tens of thousands of miles away, in Africa, but she knew all about Clinton's remarks. Asked to comment, she dismissed her predecessor's remarks in uncharacteristically sharp terms: "I think it's ridiculous, it's a ridiculous comment. That's what I think."

My good ness! We note that Bush's political slap comes just a few days after she volunteered that America will "probably" have a female president soon, and she floated the name of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice , whom she termed "terrific." Clinton is seeking her second term this fall but is widely expected to seek her party's presidential nomination in '08.

Is this first-ladylike? Clinton press secretary Philippe Reines ducked a direct jab at Bush's comment. "It's a top-down system that is fundamentally at odds with how the people's House should operate," he told us.

Iraq WMD Intelligence, From the Horse's Mouth

Former CIA director George Tenet is finally ready to tell his version of the intelligence leading up to the Iraq invasion -- including those infamous weapons of mass destruction -- in a book for HarperCollins.

The working title is "Slam Dunk" . . . just kidding ! It's "At the Center of the Storm." Tenet was originally supposed to write the book for Crown with a juicy $5 million advance, but that deal reportedly was never finalized. Instead, Tenet got a Presidential Medal of Freedom, collected his thoughts, taught a foreign-policy course at Georgetown and then decided he's ready to write. Bill Harlow , his spokesman at the CIA, will assist Tenet on the book, due to come out later this year or early next year.

Tenet wasn't talking yesterday. Terms of the deal, brokered by attorney Robert Barnett , were not disclosed.

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