A Star-Quality Pal for the Ex-Prez

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More insight into the surprising friendship between George H.W. Bush and Teri Hatcher: She baked oatmeal cookies for the Bush family during a Kennebunkport, Maine, visit! He taught her daughter how to ride a Segway! They've gone fishing and golfing together!

Those details came to us in e-mails the "Desperate Housewives" star sent yesterday in response to our colleague Korin Miller's inquiries about Hatcher's chummy Los Angeles lunch last week with the former prez, captured by leering paparazzi. Miller reported Saturday that the two have been pals since meeting at a gala in Las Vegas a few years ago. Hatcher responded late but in great detail, seemingly concerned that someone might interpret this all, you know, the wrong way.

Hatcher, a "registered independent," wrote that she befriended Bush 41 -- and his wife, Barbara, mind you! -- in "hope of being involved in their many charities," praising his work on disaster relief and other causes. "He is wonderful to my family but more importantly I believe at this time in his life the most important thing for he and Mrs. Bush is to be involved in giving back to the world . . . and I am proud to be a part of that."

As for the friendly peck on the cheek and pat goodbye captured on video: "There was nothing inappropriate. . . . We all had a good laugh about it."

Some Loaded Comments at 'Abu Ghraib' Screening

When the lights go up after most documentary screenings, you usually can expect a politely snoozy lovefest at the "panel discussion to follow." So the folks who turned out for the preview of HBO's "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" at the Ronald Reagan Building last night were unusually lucky.

Among the VIPs on hand to discuss the Rory Kennedy project (set to air Feb. 22) were Uncle Ted Kennedy and Sen. Lindsey Graham. The latter livened things up in a big way when he denounced Army Col. Janis Karpinski, who was demoted from brigadier general after the prison torture scandal.

"Karpinski should have been court-martialed," said the South Carolina Republican, who sits on the Armed Services Committee. "She was not a good commander."

Awkward! For who was in the audience but Karpinski herself. "I consider you as cowardly as [Lt. Gen. Ricardo] Sanchez or [Donald] Rumsfeld or [former Guantanamo Bay commander Geoffrey] Miller," she shot back. "You're saying I should be court-martialed -- they didn't want me in a courtroom because I would tell" the truth. Graham sputtered clumsily until moderator Jeffrey Toobin jumped in.

Afterward, Karpinski told our colleague Michael Cavna: "Ninety-nine percent of the story is still covered up. . . . Miller and Sanchez and Rumsfeld should be in those cells" with the Army guards who were found guilty.

Chew Confessions! The First Lady Spills the Beans

Laura Bush
On "Rachael Ray" yesterday, Laura Bush talked about cooking, the twins' favorite foods and W's gifts.(Scott Gries - Getty Images)
Laura Bush sat down to dish with cook/talk-show host Rachael Ray on yesterday's program. A few crumbs:

  • The first lady admitted she loves to cook but hasn't been in the kitchen for years. (She brought carrot muffins made by White House chef Cris Comerford.) Instead, she reads cookbooks and watches cooking shows "a lot."
  • Jenna and Barbara rarely eat meat, like fish and vegetables, and love beans -- especially Cuban black beans and pinto beans.
  • She just finished reading "The Glass Castle," a memoir by gossip columnist Jeannette Walls of her dysfunctional childhood (alcoholic father, neglectful mother), which she got from her mother-in-law and then passed it on to Sheila Martin, wife of Canada's former prime minister.
  • The president: "Not very good" at remembering Valentine's Day, so the White House florist always sends up flowers; he signs the card. Last year, one of the gardeners fashioned a heart topiary. "But, of course, the president didn't think of it, the gardener did," she told the audience. Busted!
  • HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

    A fellow who certainly looked like LL Cool J having an early dinner and signing autographs at Chadwick's in Georgetown Saturday evening. "He was everything you wanted him to be," sighed one star-struck diner -- black Yankees cap, huge diamond-stud earrings and a fur-trimmed coat over arms the diameter of his platinum records, and he told restaurant staff he was Cool James himself. But a publicist denied that the veteran rapper was in D.C. A colleague of ours, who happened to be interviewing the star by phone yesterday, asked. He sort of denied it and laughed; she asked again, and he noted that he has family here and said, "Well, I'll let you decide."

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