And You Think He's Feisty on Fox: Beckel's Parking Lot Punch-Out
Democratic consultant and Fox News commentator Bob Beckel is sporting a big shiner from a fistfight Tuesday afternoon in the parking lot of a Giant supermarket in Bethesda.
Waiting to pick up his kids at a school nearby, Beckel -- best known for using the "Where's the Beef?" catchphrase in Walter Mondale 's1984 presidential campaign -- was sitting inside his Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is covered with anti-George W. Bush bumper stickers. "I put them all on just to irritate my Fox colleagues," he told us yesterday. Beckel, 55, said he was reading the newspaper when two men in their 30s, who appeared to be workers from a nearby construction site, approached the rear of his car. Apparently unaware Beckel was sitting behind the tinted windows, they began peeling off "Support Bush's War . . . Draft Young Republicans" and "No One Died When Clinton Lied!"
Beckel said he jumped out and confronted the men: "Boys, get away from the bumper stickers."
"You got no respect for the presidency," answered one.
"I certainly do," Beckel says he told him. "It's this president that I have very little respect for."
When one of the men reached back down to rip off a sticker, Beckel says, he "gently" put his hand on the man's chest and pushed him back -- and the man reached over and sucker-punched the pundit in the face. But -- as they always tell us -- you shoulda seen the other guy. "I put him away," said the 235-pound, 6-foot-1 Beckel, who reports that he hit the man in the stomach and the side as the friend ran off. After sending the guy to the asphalt, Beckel says, he got in the Jeep and drove off to get his kids.
A Giant manager reached yesterday said he had no knowledge of the dust-up. Beckel said he didn't get the names of the two men and didn't call the police. And yes, he acknowledged, the bumper stickers might set some people off: "I'm sort of asking for trouble." But, he adds, "they'll stay exactly where they are -- proudly."
HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?
• Jenna Bush dining Wednesday at Chinatown's Matchbox with a young boy and a twentyish guy said to be an administration "staffer" named Jared. The blond First Twin, just back from book-writing in Panama, wore a purple top, jeans, pink flip-flops; ordered tuna tartare and a prosciutto white pizza; patted the youngster on the head as they walked down the street.
• Robert De Niro sneaking into the International Spy Museum the same night for a private party celebrating some complex new role-playing game/exhibit. The star wore a gray jacket and grayish beard, then zipped right back outta town on his private jet. Sorry you missed him!
• U-Texas forward and possible NBA first draft pick Kevin Durant watching the teams' draft lottery with about 50 friends at ESPN Zone Tuesday. The D.C. native, 18, sipped lemonade with his pasta and ribs. Also there: the Wizards' Caron Butler and one of Durant's old HS teammates, U-Md. guard Greivis Vasquez.
• NYC financier/ restaurateur/reality TV star Jeffrey Chodorow striding through downtown's Central yesterday with its superchef/owner Michel Richard, a gaggle of suits in tow.
• Stevie Wonder dining on sea bass and playing the harmonica (really!) at Cafe Milano Wednesday night as he and five friends closed the place down after the Paul Simon tribute concert.
• Gary Sinise at the Union Station Au Bon Pain yesterday morning, wearing a black ball cap, talking on a cell. The "CSI: NY" star is here for the GI Film Festival, his latest support- the-troops venture.
Celebrating the Legacy of a Onetime Father-in-Law
All in the family: Sen. John Warner, below right, made a rare public appearance with his very private ex-wife Catherine Conover, center, and their daughter Virginia Warner at the National Gallery of Art Wednesday night. The occasion: The 100th birthday anniversary of Conover's father, philanthropist Paul Mellon. Mellon, who died in 1999, was the gallery's leading donor and trustee for almost 60 years, and the extended Mellon family sat together at the black-tie dinner celebrating his legacy: Warner (with current spouse Jeanne), Conover (and husband R.J. Cicero, left), Virginia, and two descendants of Mellon's sister, Ailsa Mellon Bruce.