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Jessica Simpson, Smiling Up a Storm

Jessica Simpson on Capitol Hill
The star promoted her cause on the Hill but reportedly balked at a partisan fundraiser. (Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)

With photographers following every step, Simpson walks out of the building arm-in-arm with Magee and jokingly predicts the next tabloid cover: " Jessica Falls for Doctor !" Then she disappears into a black stretch Excursion -- smiling all the while.

Al, Al -- You Gotta Count Carefully

So just how moved were conservatives by Al Gore 's global-warming slide show? While energetically flacking his new documentary at a convention of theater owners in Vegas Monday, Gore told a story about the warm reception he got at a Grover Norquist breakfast gathering here in January. In Variety's account of the speech, Gore said that D.C. conservatives "stood up afterward and said, 'You're absolutely right.' "

How many conservatives? Three people at the convention tell us Gore left the distinct impression he received multiple kudos, "many" in Variety's telling. That got a chuckle from the breakfast club, whose members recall a polite response but only one attendee approaching Gore with praise. Gore's people deny any hyperbole, saying he never claimed more than one enviro-conversion at the meal and may have been misquoted. His documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," hits theaters in May.

THIS JUST IN . . .

ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff was released from Bethesda's National Naval Medical Center yesterday, six weeks after he was seriously wounded during a roadside bombing while on assignment in Iraq. He will spend the next few weeks at a rehab center in New York before going home, ABC News President David Westin said in an e-mail to colleagues and reporters. He said Woodruff, 44, has been up and about, joking with his family and watching the news. But "we expect months of further recuperation," Westin said.

Joey Cheek: Now Skating in Political Circles

Olympic speedskater and anti-genocide activist Joey Cheek coasted into town to break bread with President Bush at last night's GOP gala; this morning, he was to join House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi at a briefing on the Sudan crisis. Interesting lineup -- which side is he really on?

"I'm a registered Democrat," the gold medalist told us yesterday, "but in this case the stuff I'm talking about is a humanitarian effort. It's not a Republican effort, it's not a Democratic effort." (Take note, Miss Sim pson .)

Cheek, 26, sounded a little dazed by his sudden emergence as an activist, after donating his $40,000 of Olympic winnings to a refugee charity. "I thought, 'Hey, I'll sign a few autographs and I'll be done.' " Instead he's found himself on a roller coaster of speaking engagements, charity meetings, a headlining role at next month's Save Darfur Coalition rally on the Mall. More than he ever expected, "but I'm happy."

How soon before someone runs this guy for office? Perhaps down the road, he said; college comes first. Cheek, who was infamously turned down last fall by Harvard, has apps out to several elite schools and says he's gotten some encouraging phone calls. "My situation," he says, "has been greatly improved."


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