The Reliable Source: Bill Clinton, American Idol, Meghan McCain, Joe Biden, Sarah Palin and Miss Cali

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Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, May 20, 2009; 12:00 PM

Washington Post columnists Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts was online Wednesday, May 20, at Noon ET to discuss your favorite gossip, recent celebrity sightings and their recent columns.

Today: Bill Clinton -- how he's been keeping busy lately. Congress plays favorites with "American Idol." Meghan McCain on sex, Twitter. Did Biden blab about Cheney's secret hideaway? Auto dealers, our imperiled social titans. The big "Night at the Museum" party. The changing chief of protocol job. Sarah Palin takes on the Miss Cali controversy.

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Amy Argetsinger: Good morning everyone! Looking forward to your questions.

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Washington, D.C.: Any word if the filming of the new James L. Brooks movie, tentatively titled "How Do You Know?" will be taking place in the District? The production company, "How Do You Know Productions," recently obtained parking permits for the entire north side of M Street between 23rd and 24th.

The permits may have nothing to do with the movie or its filming, but I was just wondering if should be on the lookout for Reese Witherspoon in my neighborhood. Thanks.

Amy Argetsinger: I thought it was called "How You Know"... but maybe you're right. But yes indeed -- I'm not sure on the exactly timing of when it's going to be here, but the new James Brooks movie starring Reese, Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson (who should just go ahead and get a condo here) will be filming here this spring.

The entire north side of M Street? That's one hell of a tracking shot. Or just a stretch of it through Georgetown, say?

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Arlington, Va.: I was having lunch yesterday at Leopold's in Georgetown on the patio and saw Michael Douglas and Maureen Dowd sitting together having lunch. I realize they had a prior relationship. I wonder if they remain friends or this could be something else?

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, you people! Don't you know you're supposed to take this stuff to reliablesource@washpost.com?

But you're in luck. We saw your question early and made some calls to confirm that yes, indeed, Michael Douglas lunched at Leopold yesterday with a red-haired lady, and since he and Maureen Dowd often get together for lunch when he's in town, it was probably her. He's here for some embassy thing tonight involving fine Italian cuisine and a discussion of global nuclear policy -- I'll let you know what that's like. And yes, they had a thing several years ago and have remained friends. (He's now married to the inimitable CZJ, remember.)

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Fairfax, Va.: 1. Hey, girls, tell your copyeditor that "crown" is a shorter/superior verb to "coronate" (from today's column). 2. What's up with the Boss's marriage? I read recently about some "New Jersey housewife" (not the reality show kind) whose husband is divorcing her because she had an affair with Bruce. Yet J. Freedom writes in today's review that he and Patti Scialfa sang a love song together in the Verizon Center concert. Did they split and reconcile, or did they just decide that togetherness is neater and cheaper than splitting up?

washingtonpost.com: Constituent Service: Singing 'Idol' Praises (Reliable Source, May 20)

Amy Argetsinger: "Coronate" was my choice, because it's kind of tired to say they're going to "crown" a new American Idol.

Link to follow about Bruce getting implicated in a suburban New Jersey divorce. At the time, Bruce referred everyone to the statements he made a couple years earlier when he and Patti were plagued by breakup rumors -- sort of a weird passive denial, I guess.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Seems like every year around this time, WP does a story on ducklings that need to be saved from certain disaster.

How much does rescuing ducklings pay? Some days I think I'd rather be in a storm drain instead of this desk.

washingtonpost.com: Ducklings Rescued (AP)

Roxanne Roberts: Probably not much, except for the cute overload of reuniting adorable ducklings with their mother. Most of the rescuers are city workers who know how to open storm drains, etc. How are you with large pipes?

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Hollywood, Fla.: Any truth to the rumor that as part of his plea deal for head butting incident Keifer will be filming "24" in New York next season?

Amy Argetsinger: Ha! It's true that "24" will be set in New York next season -- or set in "New York," kind of the way it was set in "Washington" this season.

But don't think it's a connection to the head-butting. I worry that the head-butting, and whatever penalties he ends up facing, could screw up their production. Oh, Kiefer, Kiefer Kiefer. (It's "i" before "e," remember). What do we do with him? Get the impression he's the kind of guy who's a lot of fun at a party until he's not.

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17th and M Streets: The article on Bill Clinton says that he will be earning $1.00 annually as UN Special Envoy to Haiti. Is that correct or was that a typo?

Roxanne Roberts: That's not a typo. I suppose there's some technical reason for giving him a salary, but I don't know what. Anyone?

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The entire north side of M Street? That's one hell of a tracking shot.: Between 23rd and 24th is just a block.

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, I missed that part. Sorry! I had the image in my head of them starting at Thomas Circle and going all the way to Key Bridge.

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Hamilton, Va.: Roxanne, saw you last week at Wait, Wait taping. That was a great evening. Show is wonderful live.

Roxanne Roberts: Thanks so much. Hope you laughed a lot.

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The biggest bummer of the week ...: is that there will be no new panda baby.

washingtonpost.com: Giant Panda Not Pregnant, Zoo Officials Say (Post, May 20)

Amy Argetsinger: I was really looking forward to that baby-bump watch.

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I'm not a doctor but...: Okay I know you won't take this question but I want to ask anyway. In recent pictures the First Lady looks like she's gaining body mass and to my not so finely tuned eye, she appears to have the glow of pregnancy. Is it just that the White House food is all that good or something else ?

Roxanne Roberts: I know, I know....it would be so much fun to have a White House baby, but the first lady has repeatedly knocked down those rumors, even when Oprah asked. If she's not telling the truth, we'll know soon enough. I think she's glowing because she's happy, fit and getting a great makeup job every day. Maybe what you see as body mass is just camera angles?

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Washington Square: I just don't get this whole Sarah Jessica Parker Broderick surrogate babies thing. It seems very strange to announce you're using a surrogate and then continue to mount such a big press campaign over it. Do you ever remember anything even remotely similar to this?

Amy Argetsinger: Sounds like it's more of a preemptive strike against the paparazzi and the gossip circuit, no? There are always ethical questions about surrogacy; they're probably figuring that being open about this will defuse a lot of the questions. I haven't really followed but apparently today's story is that she's chiding paparazzi and stalker-types for chasing her and hacking into her private stuff.

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Bored with Meghan McCain: And who cares what she thinks about Twitter? Is she trying to set herself up as the great social commentary source for her generation or something?

Amy Argetsinger: I guess. I'm not sure I understand the whole Meghan phenom, whether she's actually interesting or not. But I'm all for anyone dissing Twitter. Cheap, but still funny.

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Duck, Duck, Goose: Lots of irresponsible mother ducks out there. Need the waterfowl version of social services.

Roxanne Roberts: Yeah, you never hear much about the smart duck moms who don't nest next to a curb or steer the ducklings through traffic.

Anyone remember our duck story a couple years back? Mama duck nested near the Trade Rep's office, was moved to Interior's pond----and then the babies were picked off by a killer goose. There were, like, two left when we last checked on them. Totally traumatic.

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Prague, CR: Who (is/are) Bill Clinton's latest girl friend(s)? Any plans for children?

washingtonpost.com: Where in the World Is Bill Clinton? (Reliable Source, May 20)

Amy Graettinger: Hahaha! No, don't think he's got plans like that.

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Bill's UN Salary: If you pay someone, they are an employee and therefore accountable and can be fired.

Roxanne Roberts: Somehow, I don't think he's going to get fired.

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Dupont Circle, D.C.: What was Ann Curry thinking grabbing Brad Pitt's face like that during her interview this morning on the Today show? Granted I would totally love to grab Brad Pitt, but he seemed very uncomfortable.

Amy Argetsinger: Ha! Haven't watched this yet, but thanks for the tip. Marissa just googled it up and laughed while watching. Link to follow. Ann Curry was pretty effusive.

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Re panda baby bumps: I seem to recall that newborn pandas weigh only a few ounces, so one of the problems in detecting a pregnancy is the lack of a baby bump.

Amy Argetsinger: There are so many problems with panda pregnancy. Starting with the fact that they don't really like sex nor have much idea of how to do it. Truly, it's like they just want their own species to come to a quiet end and we keep forcing them to carry on because darn it, they're so cute!

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washingtonpost.com: Ann Curry Can't Believe She Grabbed Brad Pitt's Face (Videogum)

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Seventh Avenue: Interesting item about Christian Siriano but I would have liked to know more about the fashion show he was hosting. Was it for his own line? Why do you think this very talented guy hasn't made more of a splash on the fashion scene ? For that matter why do you think none of the Project Runway winners have had much of a career bump from the show ?

washingtonpost.com: Christian Siriano

Roxanne Roberts: He's talented, but so are thousands of people hoping to make it in the fashion business. What he did really, really well is reality TV, after all, is the point. It's entertainment. Amy reminds me none of the winners of America's Next Top Model ever had breakout careers, either. Still fun to watch.

The local fashion show was a fall fashion preview.

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Bruce Springsteen affair: From what I read it sounds like the husband in this divorce case is just crazy, possessive and jealous. Absolutely no proof of any affair. Dude made it up, either intentionally to hurt her, or actually believes it because of his jealousy issues.

Roxanne Roberts: That's one of the hazards of being a big star----you're the target of a lot of weird stuff like that, and allegations make news even when it's not true.

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Because I knew you would want to know this...: There is a Val Kilmer Web site and you can sign up for e-mail updates to get the news of his 2010 run for gov of the Land of Enchantment first :

Val Kilmer

Amy Argetsinger: Wow. That campaign photo is hilarious.

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Anonymous: Okay I'll bite : what's the latest on Kalpen Suresh Modi our celeb du jour ?

Roxanne Roberts: No new news. Still due to arrive in our fair city next month. We'll tell you as soon as we spot him in town.

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Amy Argetsinger: Oh, you know what? When the first chatter said "the entire north side of M Street between 23rd and 24th," I thought that meant the 23rd and 24th of the month.

I just realized the reason none of you are asking about "American Idol" -- because Lisa is doing her chat right now too.

So I would just like to say that while I am rooting for Adam, or once I know I will be happy with either outcome. If Danny Gokey had won, I would have had to move to Canada. But instead, democracy has once again served us well.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: Have you seen "Outrage" yet?

Amy Argetsinger: No, haven't. Will put out links to Rich Leiby's story about the movie, and Dan Zak's review.

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washingtonpost.com: Documentary's Camera Aims To Shed Light On D.C.'s Closet (Post, May 6) and 'Outrage' Drags Politics' Conservative Wingtips Out of the Closet (Post, May 8)

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Meghan McCain: Saw her on Cobert and thought she was actually really funny and smart(and much more down-to-earth and grounded then a certain other Republican politians daughter), but I do wonder how the Republican party really feels about her. She says herself that she's pretty socially liberal and supports gay marriage, and while if the whole party were to go in that direction it might bring younger voters in -- one politician's kid isn't going to change the way the whole party thinks/acts. I'm sure the GOP isn't going to go on any rampages against her or try to stop her, but I can't imagine they would be putting her out there with that message. And if they aren't -- who is -- is she just doing it on her own?

Amy Argetsinger: Well, the GOP isn't a monolith -- there are lots of self-described Republicans who openly disagree with the overall direction of the party. But they're not young pretty blonde girls with a knack for uttering sassy quotes, so you don't see them on "The View."

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Bruce affair: Come on, what husband wouldn't rather say, "She dumped me for the Boss" than "She dumped me for the check-out guy at the convenience store."?

Amy Argetsinger: Hmmm, good point. Nice face-saving spin on the story.

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we keep forcing them to carry on because darn it, they're so cute!: Doesn't artificial insemination work with pandas?

Amy Argetsinger: Isn't that pretty much the only way we're succeeding in getting them pregnant? There was a great magazine cover story on this -- I'll find the link.

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Speaking of Kal Penn: His gig with the White House is only for a year, according to Entertainment Weekly, and afterwards he is doing another Harold and Kumar film -- already signed, etc. So this D..C job is really just a sabbatical, not a major career shift. BTW, loved him as a dead guy hallucination on House!

Roxanne Roberts: Hmmm. He's said the gig is for AT LEAST one year, and Kumar flicks would be WAY down the line. We'll have to check it out.

Kids, I'm ducking out early for a lunch. Have a great long weekend (white shoes are a-okay again) and will talk to you all next week.

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Anonymous: Sad news about rapper Dolla being murdered. Is this related to that stupid East Coast-West Coast music feud from a few years back or does evidence seem to indicate something else?

Amy Argetsinger: It is sad. He was really young. But I'm guessing it was probably a more personal feud. That East Coast-West Coast thing was like 10, 12 years ago.

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D.C.: Isn't M. Obama too old to have a baby? How old is she?

Amy Argetsinger: She just turned 45. It's not impossible. But I doubt it's on her itinerary.

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Confused: I must have missed the beginning of the story (despite being a loyal Reliable Source devotee) -- what job is Kal Penn taking in the administration?

Amy Argetsinger: Sorry! We just assumed everyone knew. Kal Penn, who campaigned for Obama, is taking a sabbatical from acting to work for the White House Office of Public Liaison. It was announced last month. Link to follow.

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washingtonpost.com: The Panda Paradox (Post, April 5)

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Reston, Va.: Amy said "Get the impression he's the kind of guy who's a lot of fun at a party until he's not."

Ha! You described, in one sentence, every bad relationship I've ever had.

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, tell us more! Or tell Hax.

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washingtonpost.com: 'Kumar' Goes to the White House, Gets a Job (Post, April 7)

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Rosslyn: How Liz Edwards book doing? Isn't it time she had a real friend come over and say "sweetie, you really need to quit the tour and get yourself to a good lux spa"?

Amy Argetsinger: If you saw her on "The View" yesterday, that was surely your reaction. Lots of awkward stammering. Got the sense she was thinking, "why did I think this was a good idea?"

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Panama Canal Zone: How did Schwarzenegger drop so far and so fast? Do you think he'll resume a making movies when he leaves the governor's office or just ride off into the setting sun?

Amy Argetsinger: Well, his big problem is the one that faces all California politicians -- term limits. He's outta there. And yes, a bunch of his ballot initiatives just failed, but that happened to him four years ago as well, and he rebounded pretty remarkably after that and easily won reelection... He's a pretty resilient politician. We probably haven't seen the last of him.

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Philadelphia, Pa.: That Isaac Mizrahi disaster on Bravo is so utterly tasteless that I can't stand to watch it and this is from someone who can watch the same Bravo episodes over and over like three times in a week. Have you seen it? If not consider yourself lucky...

Amy Argetsinger: Haven't seen it.... but I've also never seen Project Runway, on account of not having cable until relatively recently. I've sort of lost my taste for reality shows (other than Idol).

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First Lady looks like she's gaining body mass : That purple dress didn't help much. Maybe it's just the clothes.

Amy Argetsinger: She looks more svelte in some clothes than others. As we all do. One of the reasons I think she goes sleeveless so much isn't just to show off her arms -- it's a style that flatters her overall silhouette.

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If Pookie wants to discuss American Idol...: ...then could we talk "Dancing With the Stars"? How cute and adorable is Shawn Johnson? Her partner Mark Ballas looked genuinely surprised that they won last night. Will they be visiting the White House?

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, you're going to hate me, but I never watch that one either....

Did Rox say a proper goodbye? She had to go off to an event, so it's just me.

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Arlington, Va.: Like Mr. Tony has always said, Ann Curry is a praying mantis.

Amy Argetsinger: hahaha

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Heading to Chi-Town: I'll be in Hyde Park this weekend. Any dirt you want me to sniff up on POTUS in his home digs?

Amy Argetsinger: You don't think every news organization in the country hasn't already poured a lot of resources into that task? Just have fun. Good restaurants there, right?

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The entire north side of M Street? That's one hell of a tracking shot: Here in New York when there is a big Hollywood production shooting in town, the signs go up a couple of days before the neighborhood gets taken over. Then, the night before the shoot, the young officious production assistants descend, taking over the entire area where parking is prohibited, demanding that people move their cars. (Given that I dislike both cars in the city and Hollywood films, I can't figure out who I want to have win this particular battle.) By morning, the enormous Mack trucks and star trailers are in place. If we're lucky, we'll get a fleeting glimpse of George or Brad or Angelina (all of whom have filmed nearby in the last year.) Over the last few weeks, the new Nicolas Cage movie has been filming near my apartment AND near my office, and it is a logistical nightmare -- those stressed out PAs snippily telling us that we can't walk down the sidewalk on our own blocks, etc.

Amy Argetsinger: I'm sorry.

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Any good dish from thew Springsteen show?: I figure it was a great opportunity to see lots of WH and Dem operatives trying to pretend they're still 20.

Amy Argetsinger: Lots of Republicans there too.

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Isn't M. Obama too old to have a baby? How old is she?: Although it's pretty rare for a woman past 24 to have a baby using her own eggs, Cherie Blair got pregnant at about 44 or 45 with their youngest child.

Amy Argetsinger: That's right -- she was 45 and living at Downing Street when she gave birth.

(You probably mistyped when you wrote "woman past 24," huh?)

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Starting with the fact that they don't really like sex nor have much idea of how to do it.: What couch potatoes! They ought to just move a sofa and big screen TV in there for them.

Amy Argetsinger: Totally.

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Is Amy a Republican?: Seems like you are carrying a torch for the GOP in this chat....

Amy Argetsinger: How, exactly? I'm a political agnostic but eager to swat down sloppy logic (i.e., that only Democrats go to Springsteen shows -- tons of Republicans were having fundraisers there -- or that Meghan McCain is.... well, AM I defending Meghan McCain? I'm not sure that I am.)

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NY and Films: The NY denizen complaining about film crews in NYC might want to rethink his position a touch, given the current comparative economic benefits of filming a movie vs., oh, I don't know, the financial services industry....

Amy Argetsinger: Ha!

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Woman past 24: Indeed I did. I meant to type "42." I'm not some insidious "Handmaid's Tale" type.

Amy Argetsinger: Ha!

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I'm sure the GOP isn't going to go on any rampages against her or try to stop her, but I can't imagine they would be putting her out there with that message.: How could they stop her? People have the right to talk about their own ideas and beliefs, and she's getting attention because of who she is. Just because she's a Republican doesn't mean other Republicans can reign her in.

Amy Argetsinger: Both parties encompass a lot of disagreement about what direction their party should take. This is what the primary system is all about.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Had to do a double take when I read these two together:

Isn't M. Obama too old to have a baby? How old is she?: Although it's pretty rare for a woman past 24 to have a baby using her own eggs, Cherie Blair got pregnant at about 44 or 45 with their youngest child.

Amy Argetsinger: That's right -- she was 45 and living at Downing Street when she gave birth.

(You probably mistyped when you wrote "woman past 24," huh?)

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Starting with the fact that they don't really like sex nor have much idea of how to do it.: What couch potatoes! They ought to just move a sofa and big screen TV in there for them.

Amy Argetsinger: Totally.

Amy Argetsinger: Ugh. I really don't like the fact that we're discussion the fertility of pandas and the fertility of Cherie Blaire all at the same time.

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I'm not some insidious "Handmaid's Tale" type.: Love that book, and that it got referenced here!

Amy Argetsinger: Me too.

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Meghan Panda: The pandas need a "pro-sex" advocate like Meghan McCain!

Amy Argetsinger: Honestly, I'm surprised she hasn't weighed in on this topic.

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Just because she's a Republican doesn't mean other Republicans can reign her in.: Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele, Michelle Bachman, etc. Res ipsa loquitor.

Amy Argetsinger: I'll tell you what else is cool -- someone using Latin in the chat. Apparently this means, "speaks for itself."

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Where can I find the stats on the over 42-year-olds and pregnancy: I need to show that to my MIL to further explain that I am NOT having another one.

Amy Argetsinger: Ha! Google it.

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well, AM I defending Meghan McCain: I thought you were defending her right to be an idiot, if that's what she wants to do with her life.

Amy Argetsinger: I don't think she's an idiot. I'm just not sure how much she has to add to the discussion -- whatever the discussion is -- or whether we'd be paying attention to her if she weren't pretty and blonde. Good thing my job isn't really about "the discussion," and we can just quote her when she says something amusing and ignore her when she doesn't. She's like a reality TV star without a reality TV show, and I say that with some admiration.

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re: Who (is/are) Bill Clinton's latest girl friend(s)? Any plans for children?: He's currently dating a sofa and a big-screen TV. No plans for kids just yet.

Amy Argetsinger: He would probably have some opinions on panda fertility though.

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Sarah Palin: Thought we should mention her at least once since she's in your chat subtitle. But does anyone really care what she says or does anymore?

Amy Argetsinger: Love her or hate her, it seems that people care desperately. Just putting her name in a story is a huge traffic driver -- nothing but readers. I'm convinced there is a world of people (some who love her, some who hate her, both equally obsessed) who do nothing but sit around all day Googling her.

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NY denizen complaining about film crews in NYC : No, in fact, I'm yearning for the bad old days of the 1970s.

Amy Argetsinger: Starsky and Hutch running through your neighborhood, causing traffic jams?

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New Jersey Housewives: Can we consider them close enough to call them local so we can talk about them? The single lady on that show, Danielle, is HILARIOUS in that trainwreck kind of way

Amy Argetsinger: I'm sorry. I still haven't seen that one either. Sounds like I should, though.

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Amy Argetsinger: Okay, I guess I can't claim to be a complete non-partisan if I already told you how I voted for "American Idol." But hey, the fate of our republic was at stake.

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Chantilly, Va.: This is something I see often: it's REIN one in, like a horse.

Amy Argetsinger: Sorry I didn't catch that one. We all knew what they meant, though.

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re:Where can I find the stats on the over 42-year-olds and pregnancy: the most recent statistics are often found at your State Health Statistics Bureau, but are also reported to the National Center for Health Statistics. NCHS has a searchable website that should give you the info you want.

Amy Argetsinger: Good work, thanks.

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Bel Air, Md.: I can't believe no one has said anything about 'J and K plus 8', or their new title, 'Jon minus 9'...

Amy Argetsinger: Go back to the "Weekend Roundup" on our column page -- it has a link to Monica Hesse and Hank Stuever's list of new "Jon and Kate" titles. Reliable Source chatters got a shout-out. But my favorite was "Jon and Kate and Eight Things I Hate About You."

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Responsible party: I wrote both "Handmaid's Tale" and "res ipsa loquitor." A practicing lawyer and someone who reads the occasional piece of literature who chats with you every week!

Amy Argetsinger: Well, thanks for elevating the discussion, Margaret Atwood -- I'm a great fan of your work, and it's an honor to have you here.

And it's been an honor having all of you here. Stay in touch all week long via reliablesource@washpost.com.

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E-mail and bookmark Reliable Source Blog.

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