It's . . . Washington Idol!

Chris Daughtry, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke
Chris Daughtry, Fed Chair Ben Bernanke (Fox, Getty - Fox, Getty)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Sunday, April 30, 2006

Paris Bennett, Condi Rice
Paris Bennett, Condi Rice(Fox, AP)
Hey, you elitist Beltway wonks! Flyover America couldn't care less about your midterm handicapping; the real race is the down-to-the-wire "American Idol," as five remaining hopefuls vie for the hearts and votes of a nation. Can't relate? Look at it this way:

Paris Bennett = Condi Rice

So young, so precocious, so poised. Extra points for versatility (Paris is bilingual, Condi plays concert piano). We'd be prostrate with envy if they weren't so darn cute.

Prediction: Too perfect to get the top job.

Chris Daughtry = Fed Chair Ben Bernanke

Sure, we don't understand anything they're saying, but America loves intense, mysterious men. Love the bald head, the counterculture stubble, the too-proud-to-beg demeanor.

Prediction: If he's correctly gauged the market, could have a very long career.

Katharine McPhee = Rep. Katherine Harris

Katharine McPhee, Rep. Katherine Harris
Katharine McPhee, Rep. Katherine Harris(Getty)
Can they sing? Count votes? Who knows? We're too busy gazing at that awesome mane of hair and stupendous cleavage. Which is no guarantee of success, as anyone following Harris's troubled Senate campaign knows -- though it will get you plenty of auditions.

Prediction: Lots of proposals from prison, but no win.

Elliott Yamin = White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten

Elliott Yamin, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten
Elliott Yamin, White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten(Getty, Fox)
Where did they come from, these self-effacing guys emerging on top after weeks of upheaval? We used to think they were kind of geeky, but now that we know their surprising skills (Elliott croons like Stevie Wonder ; Josh rides Harleys and hangs with Bo Derek ), we may have a bit of a crush.

Prediction: A force to be reckoned with -- but is he up to the soul-crushing demands of the job?

Taylor Hicks = Bill Clinton

Taylor Hicks, Bill Clinton
Taylor Hicks, Bill Clinton(Getty, Reuters)
Bulky, hoarse-voiced, gray beyond their years, and speaking with a bodacious cornpone drawl. Amazingly gifted yet dangerously self-indulgent (Bill's indiscretions, Taylor's dance moves). You either love them or loathe them; either way, you can't stop watching them.

Prediction: The first "American Idol" winner to be impeached.

It's a Thankless Job, but Somebody's Got to Do It

Can you believe it's already Public Service Recognition Week? Seems to start earlier each year! The Council for Excellence in Government is celebrating with a poll to pick the nation's favorite movies about government work. (These are the folks who asked for your favorite TV feds last fall -- Sydney from "Alias" won.) Among the 33 flicks: "12 Angry Men," "Crimson Tide," "Jarhead," "Lean on Me," "The Untouchables." Cast your vote at http://www.excelgov.org/ ; look for results here next week. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" will likely poll high, but we predict a "Stripes" upset.

This Just In . . .

That episode this week on ABC's "Commander in Chief" that so chafed Prince George's County leaders? Turns out one of the co-writers, Alex Berger , is the son of former White House adviser Sandy Berger . What's more, Sandy is a consultant for the show. However, he tells The Post's Guy Gugliotta, he had nothing to do with that particular script. In the episode, President Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) visited Hyattsville, which was depicted as a chitlins and porkchop-eating kind of town.

Readers Tell Us

Department of Equal Time: One reader wondered if we were in the tank for former Navy Secretary Jim Webb (a Democratic candidate for Senate from Virginia) because we made fun of the martial arts expertise of his opponent, Sen. George Allen -- while another thought the same story meant we were in the tank for Allen, and demanded a big, goofy photo spread on the Dems as well.

Former Dewey Beach Mayor Bob Frederick wrote in, objecting to a reality-based movie treatment (April 20) that would showcase his sandy burg as a soggy Sodom and Gomorrah: "Obviously, I disagree with Greg Godbout's comment about not being 'the right place for an engaged person' let alone raising a child. . . . When my daughter was younger she and a girlfriend would have a lemonade stand on Saturday afternoons." Lemonade, with tequila chasers. Kidding! Share your family values with us at reliablesource@washpost.com .


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