From Marriott to the Lincoln Bedroom

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Wednesday, October 17, 2007

There's a new dirtbuster at the White House, we've learned. Jenny Botero -- a.k.a. the "queen of clean"-- is leaving Marriott International to become executive housekeeper at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. White House officials were hush-hush, but we uncovered a few details about Botero, who was personally recommended for the job by Bill Marriott.

"I love to clean," she said in a 2004 interview. "I have the most spotless house you've ever seen."

Botero, 50, started as a bellhop in 1979, rose up the ranks to head cleaning operations for the company's 400,000 rooms and 20,000 housekeepers, and helped upgrade the chain to 300-thread-count sheets and an extra pillow on each bed. Now she's bringing her squeegee and housekeeping tips to the presidential mansion: She dusts with fabric-softener sheets, puts candles in the freezer to make them last longer, and never prerinses before loading the dishwasher -- mineral deposits make glass cloudy.

Botero starts folding the toilet paper ends into little V-shapes next month.

Conspiracy Theory Ends Up Falling Flat

The absence of liberal talk-radio host Randi Rhodes from the airwaves Monday took an ominous turn when Air America colleague Jon Elliott announced that she had been badly injured in a NYC mugging -- or something more sinister?

"This does not appear to me to be a standard grab-the-money- and-run," he told listeners, noting that Rhodes didn't carry a purse. "Is this an attempt by the right-wing hate machine to silence one of our own?"

The blogs and phone lines caught fire. "This is tin-foil hat stuff here BUT is it possible the powers that be don't like her talking to the troops in Iraq?" one fan wrote on Rhodes's Web site. "I would not put it past the government or extreme right wing fascist tools to attack her," fretted another.

But before they could launch a counterattack, the story changed. Air America yesterday said there was no evidence of a hate crime, just an "unfortunate incident." Rhodes's lawyer said all they know for sure is Rhodes (now in a doctor's care) fell while walking her dog -- unclear even if a perp was involved. "It's all been politicized," Robert Gaulin told us, pooh-poohing the conspiracy talk: "I think Rush has better things to do."

Elliott called us with the mea culpa he planned to read on-air last night. "I shouldn't have speculated based on hearsay," he said. Still, he added: "Nobody really knows . . . "

Hey, Isn't That ...

* Robin Williams (here for last week's KenCen Billy Crystal tribute) buying some PowerBars and signing the wall at Georgetown's Bicycle Pro Shop like this: "Keep riding. Ride long. Ride hard. Team Viagra."

Ellen DeGeneres Boohoos Over Bowwow

Ellen DeGeneres, road-hardened veteran of countless brutal comedy-club audiences, burst into tears on yesterday's talk show over a recent spat with a doggie rescue agency.

"Today is bad," she wept. "I am not capable of coming out and pretending to be funny and on when things are going so terribly wrong right now."

Something about how she and gal pal Portia de Rossi adopted a mutt last month, but it fought with their cats, so she gave it to her hairdresser's kids, but the agency got mad she violated the contract and took Iggy back. "It's my fault," she cried. "Just please give the dog back to those little girls."

We were going to get some pop-culture prof to explain how this episode, like the big Rosie-Donald bickerfest, demonstrates how egos and personal dramas are eclipsing all other content on morning TV, but . . . eh, you know.

Love, Etc.

* Engaged: Ivana Trump, 58, to Rossano Rubicondi, 35, an Italian actor. (Hmmmm, awfully light film résumé. . . maybe he mostly does theater.) The Donald's ex, thrice divorced, told People, "I've had some practices at this, but it feels right."

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