Booted by Bush -- With Admiration

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, May 18, 2006

When Kenny Chesney bounced onto the stage in the White House East Room on Tuesday night, he was wearing a brand-new pair of custom-made cowboy boots from first fan George Bush -- another member of Rocky Carroll's boot-wearing elite.

Chesney, tapped to sing Tuesday at the Bushes' dinner for Australian Prime Minister John Howard, proudly showed off his new footwear: size 7 1/2 black eel skin with a black calf top and black eel inlays, adorned with the country singer's initials and crossed American and Australian flags to commemorate the event.

This is the first pair the Houston bootmaker has made for Chesney, but Carroll's RJ's Boot Co. has created hand-stitched, custom boots for presidents, queens and a Who's Who of country-western royalty. The president's father (size 11) has about 60 pairs; Dubya (size 10) has two dozen. Bill Clinton has the fewest -- only about a dozen pair -- but the biggest (size 13). Tony Blair , Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and Oprah Winfrey each have a pair in their closets. Prices start in the hundreds and go into the thousands, depending on skins and embellishments.

The president and first lady typically present a gift to the entertainer at state and official dinners, said a White House spokesman, but declined to discuss the cost. "Just say they're priceless," Carroll said yesterday. Chesney's boots were ordered a week ago, delivered to the White House Tuesday morning and presented to the singer just hours before his performance.

"The president knows what to give somebody," a pleased Chesney told the VIP audience.

Move Over, Butterstick

A 3-month-old kiwi at the National Zoo
(Tony Alexander)
Diplomacy, kiwi-style: New Zealand Ambassador Roy Ferguson arrived in Washington Feb. 13, the same day a kiwi chick was born at the National Zoo. Tuesday, Ferguson and sixth-grade students from Shepherd Elementary got a sneak peek at the 3-month-old, called Manaia , a Maori name meaning "guardian spirit of the sky." Okay, so kiwis can't actually fly, but they make adorable national mascots.

LOVE, ETC.

· Yesterday : The marriage of Sir Paul McCartney , 63, and Heather Mills , 38, is over. Prepare to hear every bad Beatles song pun, because now who will feed McCartney when he's 64?

The couple announced yesterday that they were separating after four years of marriage and one child, 2-year-old Beatrice Milly. It's the media's fault, of course, which won't stop his second wife from getting a massive divorce settlement from the former Beatle, who is worth about $1.5 billion -- there wasn't a prenup, according to an interview Mills gave to Vanity Fair in 2002.

They met in 1999 (one year after McCartney's beloved first wife , Linda , died of breast cancer) at a charity event for land-mine victims; Mills lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. They married in 2002 amid much speculation that McCartney's children didn't care much for their new stepmum because she was pushy, controlling and a golddigger.

"He knows and I know why I'm with him," Mills told the BBC back then. "If I was going to go out with anybody for their money, it would be with someone a lot richer."

Can't buy me love.

· It's another boy : Ex-"South Park" chef Isaac Hayes has a new dish on his male-dominant menu. Nana Kwadjo , his fourth son, was born last month to wife Adjowa, whom he married a year ago.

GET THIS!

· In the midst of the fierce congressional debate about immigration reform, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he's not sure whether his Mexican grandparents entered the country legally. "You know what? It's unclear. It's unclear," he told CNN Tuesday. "And I've looked at this issue, I've talked to my parents about it, and it's just not clear."

· Rep. Dana Rohrabacher might be brown-bagging it for a while. The California Republican is returning $23,000 he received from producer Joseph Medawar , who pleaded guilty Tuesday to bilking investors out of $3.4 million, reports the L.A. Times. Medawar optioned Rohrabacher's screenplay in 2003 with funds he received for a fake television series about the Department of Homeland Security. All checks, no balances!

The Reliable Source Web chat is at noon Wednesdays. Got a tip? Send it toreliablesource@washpost.com.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company