The White House Goes Orange

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You wanted passion? You wanted roses? If you're from Texas, you wanted to be near the Longhorn football team yesterday. "Valentine's Day in the Rose Garden to celebrate our national champions was quite romantic," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison , a former UT cheerleader. Remember, we're talking about a state where brides check the football schedule before planning their weddings.

So it was huge when the underdog Longhorns won the Rose Bowl last month, and the team was invited to the White House. Spokesman Scott McClellan explained that burnt orange is the school color: "The orange that they're wearing is not because they're concerned that the vice president may be there," he joked yesterday morning, in what turned out to be another misfire.

President Bush invited a bunch of Texas pals for the ceremony on the South Lawn, where he praised Coach Mack Brown , told quarterback Vince Young it was okay he'd forgotten his suit, and was presented with a Texas jersey with the number 1.

The team moved over to the JW Marriott, where former congressman Tom Loeffler hosted a bash for 300 "Texas-exes." "I proudly wear burnt orange anytime, anyplace, for any occasion," said a beaming Loeffler ('68.) The Longhorn band played, the players stood stoically onstage looking like bouncers at a nightclub, and everyone predicted they would do it all over again next year. Then they all made the Hook 'em Horns gesture and sang the alma mater, "The Eyes of Texas."

At the Turin Olympics, Pardon Her French

NPR reporter Sylvia Poggioli -- whose very Italian way of pronouncing her last name has delighted listeners for two decades -- uttered a very un- bellissimo word while on the air on "All Things Considered" late Friday.

Speaking live from the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in Turin, Poggioli thought her connection to the Washington studios had crashed on her: "Oh, [shoot]!"

An end-of-the-black-box- recording-type silence followed. "Sylvia?" asked host Michele Norris . No answer. Quick cutaway to another segment.

Yesterday, Norris told our colleage Paul Farhi that it was "a day of intense technical difficulties" for NPR. "I think she thought the line [to the studio] had dropped. It hadn't."

Poggioli's expletive is a word that often draws the ire of the FCC's indecency cops, but the few dozen people who called or wrote just wanted to know if the broadcaster was okay, said NPR spokeswoman Andi Sporkin . "Someone thought she might be choking on a piece of prosciutto." Good times.

'West Wing's' Strange Bedfellow

Actor Bradley Whitford gave all those heavy-breathing "West Wing" fanatics still out there (or rather here -- they do all live here, don't they?) a tantalizing bit of final-season spoiler in his Monday night speech before several hundred folks at American University.

Whitford, who plays White House aide-turned-campaign-manager Josh Lyman, let on that in taping an upcoming episode, "I did spend the day naked in bed with a woman." This got all the long-denied Josh-and-Donna proponents revved up -- though when asked specifically about Janel Moloney 's character, Whitford declared that "if we consummate, that's the most boring thing on TV."

Most of Whitford's talk concerned the melding of media, politics and showbiz. But he also warned his audience not to heed what any thespian "meat puppet" like him or Ben Affleck has to say.


· Gaby Gilbeau , the 16-year-old from Centreville, and her 2-year-old Bedlington terrier, Vegas, made their first appearance at the Westminster Dog Show on Monday. Gilbeau and Vegas won best of breed at the National Dog Show in November, but didn't win anything in New York. "The dogs that did well were a lot older than him," she said yesterday. "Hopefully next year, when we have more experience, we'll do better."

· Rep. John Dingell now ranks second on the all-time list of longest-serving members in the House of Representatives. The Michigan Democrat passed the late Georgia Democrat Carl Vinson yesterday with a tenure of 50 years 2 months 14 days. Two more elections before he can break the late Mississippi Democrat Jamie Whitten's all-time record of 2009.

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

· Charter school teacher Jenna Bush , making an early-a.m. stop at a Glover Park Starbucks yesterday. Dress pants, pointy shoes, teal houndstooth coat and that cute new chin-length do we've been hearing about. Graciously gestured to another customer to pull out of the lot first.

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