The Reliable Source

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's a Wrap for Barney's Holiday Gift

End of an era! Yesterday, the White House released the seventh and final Barney Cam holiday video, an annual mix of offbeat humor and major cuteness.

The Scottish terrier bids farewell to Washington with the first family (including new son-in-law Henry Hager) and cameos by Olympians Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Garrett Webber-Gale, Shawn Johnson and the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team. In a trippy animated scene, Barney dreams of competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and sinking a winning putt-- until President Bush urges him to start decorating for Christmas.

"Barney, you had better wake up, fella," he says. "There's a lot of work to do around here. We're sprinting to the finish, not napping to the finish."

Barney Cam, which debuted in 2002, is the brainchild of Jeanie Mamo, White House head of media affairs. The White House had been closed to public tours since 9/11, so Barney Cam was created to share the holiday decorations online. The first video was shot from Barney's perspective (six inches from the floor) and introduced the now classic dog-plays-with-a-red-ornament trick. Big hit, with millions of hits on the White House Web site.

Highlights from subsequent years: Barney's sibling rivalry with puppy Miss Beazley, his dashed hopes for a big holiday show ("There's no easy way to say this, but we're out of money," Treasury Sec Hank Paulson told the pooch in 2006), kudos from Tony Blair and plenty of adorable pitter-pattering down the halls.

But showbiz takes its toll: Barney took a bite last month out of a pesky reporter who got in his face. Time to move on -- the dogs and cat Willie (a.k.a. India, Kitty or Willard) are headed down to Dallas with the Bushes in January.

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . .

· Dr. Phil dining with 14 others at Art and Soul on Capitol Hill on Saturday after hosting TNT's "Christmas in Washington" taping at the National Building Museum. So, when Oprah's therapist dines at Oprah's former chef's restaurant, does he have to pay? Unclear, but the group did tip very nicely.

THIS JUST IN

· Tom Cruise made nice with Matt Lauer on "Today," apologizing for calling the anchor "glib" in the infamous 2005 interview in which they debated Scientology and antidepressants. "In looking at myself, I thought, 'Man, that came across as arrogant,' " Cruise said in yesterday's sequel. Of course, he has a movie to promote, but he had one back then, too.

· Okay, it's all over now: Madonna settled her divorce from Guy Ritchie by giving him at least $76 million, including their English country home and pub, her rep told the AP.

· Socks, the former White House cat, has cancer and isn't expected to live much longer, according to U.S. News & World Report. The kitty, adopted by the Clintons in Arkansas in 1991, now lives in Maryland with Bill Clinton's former secretary Betty Currie.

QUOTED

"I think the only thing worse than navigating Washington during the inaugural is the Super Bowl."

-- Alec Baldwin, in the online discussion he hosted on washingtonpost.com yesterday, explaining why he will not be showing up here next month. The actor, a die-hard Democrat, attended Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration.


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