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Wendy Rieger's Birthdays Take the Cake

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, April 25, 2008

What is it about Wendy Rieger that mysteriously draws GOP bigwigs into her birthday orbit? Two years ago, NBC4's resident hottie and pals walked into the Eastern Shore's Bistro St. Michaels to celebrate her 50th -- only to find Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld at a nearby table. Last Friday, Rieger was at the Cheeca Lodge in the Florida Keys having a romantic 52nd birthday dinner with her boyfriend. Who shows up at the restaurant? None other than George H.W. Bush, visiting the resort for some deep-sea fishing . . .

Whoa. Back it up, there -- boyfriend? Turns out one of Washington's most eligibles has been dating Frank Sullivan, an Irish oncologist, for three years. "He's a fabulous man," she told us yesterday. "Blue eyes, fabulous accent. And funny -- he makes me laugh."

The two were introduced by a mutual friend just three months before Sullivan left his private practice in Maryland to treat cancer patients in his homeland. "You're setting me up with a guy who's leaving the country?" Rieger hissed to her pal. But the two hit it off instantly (Sullivan even contemplated staying in the States) and have been in a long-distance romance ever since. He's based in Galway; she's in D.C., and they're racking up frequent-flier points on Aer Lingus. "We go no more than five weeks without seeing each other," she said. How serious? She picked out his house in Galway and decorated it from Crate & Barrel.

Sullivan, 50, a huge golf buff, was at the Masters Tournament last week before meeting Rieger in Florida for her birthday: full moon, beautiful necklace, and Bush 41. Romantic . . . and kinda weird.

THE SOURCE QUOTE

"I was in 'Omaha (The Movie).' . . . As governor of Nebraska I appeared on 'Candid Camera.' But since then the only offer I've had was to be in a Metamucil commercial. . . . Remember, I'm always available for a walk-on."

-- Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb., right) doing a little lobbying of his own yesterday while greeting a passel of Creative Coalition types -- Hollywood actors Lauren Holly, Laura Innes ("ER"), Richard Schiff ("West Wing"), Connie Britton ("Friday Night Lights") and both Tim and Tyne Daly-- who were lobbying him for increased arts funding.

THIS JUST IN . . .

· Wesley Snipes was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison on tax evasion charges. A federal judge in Florida agreed with prosecutors and gave the actor, 45, the maximum punishment for "willfully failing" to file tax returns from 1999 to 2001. The court rejected the defense argument for probation and was unswayed by letters from actors Woody Harrelson and Denzel Washington attesting to Snipes's character.

· Mike Huckabee will release a book on his failed presidential bid just two weeks after the election. The tome will offer "an insider's view" of the campaign and his vision for the conservative movement. What? No diet tips?

UPDATE

For more than 36 hours, the political blogosphere and cable-news yakfests buzzed about the big mystery of Primary Night: What was up with those three dudes in splashy Abercrombie & Fitch logo tees standing behind Barack Obama during his televised speech? The frat-casual retailer denied involvement in any publicity stunt. And with the alleged pranksters failing to step forward immediately, two startling theories arose:

· Are there some Americans who aren't fully tuned in to the relentless 24-hour political news cycle?

· Are there some Americans who don't crave their 15 minutes of fame in said news cycle?

Finally, one of the men contacted CNN yesterday to explain. Seems it wasn't a stunt at all! Just that he and his brother and their friend all really like to wear Abercrombie & Fitch, and they just happened to get seated behind the candidate. Go figure.

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