The Reliable Source

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, March 20, 2009; 12:00 AM

Fall Doesn't Keep This Senator Down

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has spent the past two weeks moving around Capitol Hill in a wheelchair -- after tearing two key ligaments and a chunk of cartilage in her left knee from a spill while skiing. Major surgery awaits.

And she's already making plans to hit the slopes again next season.

Then again, as an Alaskan, the 51-year-old Republican probably figures her political career depends on it. "I definitely need to be skiing again in December," she told a recent luncheon group, reports our colleague Juliet Eilperin. "Alaskans are very impressed with acts of bravado and machismo, and they think, 'Yeah, she's my senator and she fell 300 feet.' "

An expert skier, Murkowski was taking on the south face at Alyeska Ski Resort near Anchorage on March 8. She said she was trying to negotiate a mogul near the top when she started tumbling. "I slid slow enough none of my gear disengaged," she said. Yet it was enough to rip apart her ACL, MCL and lateral meniscus.

And then? After getting treated at the resort by an orthopedic surgeon friend who happened to be skiing there as well, she got on a red-eye that night -- to make it back to Washington for a vote Monday.

No trouble getting around the Hill since then, insists her spokesman Michael Brumas. "She is in great physical shape, so she has been able to get out of the wheelchair and use crutches," though she can't put any pressure on that leg, now in a full brace. She's waiting until the Easter recess to go home for surgery.

Murkowski told the luncheon group that she got a surprise call from a fellow athlete-pol -- President Obama -- to wish her a speedy recovery.

Love, Etc.

-- Engaged: Designer Marc Jacobs to his ad-exec boyfriend of about a year, Lorenzo Martone, Women's Wear Daily reported yesterday. No date set, and no word on the jurisdiction in which they'll make it legal.

A First Lady With a Head For Style

Oh, sure, everyone agrees that Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy know how to put together an outfit. But another first lady is poised to upstage them both as a style icon: Cameroon's Chantal Biya. The 38-year-old, already celebrated at home for her advocacy of HIV/AIDS awareness and miles of luxurious hair, turned heads around the world this week when she greeted Pope Benedict XVI wearing a wedding-cake-size pink-and-white hat, adorned with crosses.

Hey, Isn't That . . . ?

-- Ben Affleck and Allen Iverson watching jazz pianist Marcus Johnson playing in the lobby of the Georgetown Ritz-Carlton at the same time Wednesday night -- but no, not together. The actor (jeans, dark fleece), in town to present a humanitarian prize at last night's Vital Voices gala, listened a few minutes, then headed into Fahrenheit restaurant. The sidelined Pistons star (jeans, blingy necklace, ball cap) lingered in the lobby; he was in town to see Georgetown docs about his back pain.

-- Richard Dreyfuss doubling back to Bistro Bis to search around and under his table for a friend's forgotten doggie bag Wednesday night. The actor was here to advocate for endangered historic battlefields.

-- Kathleen Sebelius taking a no-frills Southwest flight from BWI to Kansas City on Wednesday night. The Kansas guv (and President Obama's HHS pick) and an aide pre-boarded but did not grab primo seats.

-- Martin O'Malley and the Maryland guv's band playing a Walter Reed gig Wednesday night for about 100 service members.

© 2009 True