Without a Catch, Kaine Handles a Political Football

A real carving, but no secret tunnels, in the basement of Mount Vernon.
A real carving, but no secret tunnels, in the basement of Mount Vernon. (The Mount Vernon Ladies Association)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, January 4, 2008

Take heart, Old Dominion voters. Tim Kaine says he was, in fact, cheering for Virginia Tech in last night's Orange Bowl against the University of Kansas Jayhawks.

The Virginia governor grew up in Overland Park, Kan., and is an avowed Jayhawks fan. Back in 2005, he called them his favorite team. But not, as it turns out, on the gridiron.

"I root for the Jayhawks in basketball," Kaine told us yesterday. "I've never been a KU football fan." (Hey, we had to ask. Remember when Hillary Clinton claimed she was both a Cubs and Yankees fan?)

Parsing the nuances of team loyalty, Kaine explained that his parents were "K-Staters" (Kansas State U) and he graduated from the University of Missouri, which meant he was usually rooting against rival KU. He predicted a Hokies victory ("30-13") in Miami and had the standard cute bet with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius: She'd send him beef if Virginia Tech won; he'd send her a ham if the Jayhawks prevailed.

Kaine, who just returned from stumping for Barack Obama in Iowa, spent last night at the governor's mansion with remote in hand, watching both football and caucus action. "That's a first," he said. "I'm usually flicking between games."

Unlocking Mount Vernon's Treasured Basement

Some myths to debunk for those who've seen the splashy new "National Treasure" sequel: Mount Rushmore doesn't really have a city of gold lying beneath it. There isn't really a presidential "Book of Secrets" that explains Watergate, the Lincoln assassination and everything else.

But damned if Mount Vernon doesn't actually turn out to have that super-mysterious secret basement! And now the caretakers of George Washington's home have decided to temporarily open it to the public, with views of the sandstone foundation and cornerstone bearing half-brother Lawrence Washington's initials, on weekends from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10. "We knew people would be coming asking to see it," said spokeswoman Emily Coleman Dibella.

The filmmakers spent several days at Mount Vernon shooting the pivotal scene where Nicolas Cage abducts the president from a party and whisks him into the basement; the scenes of them running down the steps were filmed on site, though they re-created the basement's interior on a set. "It's impossible to tell," Dibella said. "It looks a lot like the basement."

Oh, and the secret tunnel from the basement that leads Cage to some wooded area? That part's not real. Sorry. Stop asking them about that.


Sleeping with the Enemy?: Britney Spears, 26, has been seen checking into Southern California hotels and generally hangin' out with Adnan Ghalib, 35 -- one of the photographers from the mob of paparazzi that habitually stalks her, People magazine reports. From K-Fed to F-Stop? We'll just diagnose it as Stockholm syndrome.


"I believe in open marriage. [Philandering] is something that Bill Clinton and I have in common."

-- Conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife on the one thing he shares with his longtime nemesis. The Pittsburgher (who spent more than $1 million to expose Clinton's affairs) and his soon-to-be-ex-wife reflect on their very messy prenup-less divorce in the February issue of Vanity Fair.

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