The Reliable Source: The Salahis testify, Whitney Houston, Dr. Ruth, Peter Orszag, Harold Ford, more

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Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 20, 2010; 12:00 PM

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

In recent columns: A top marijuana lobbying group is rocked by allegations of its founder's sexual misconduct. Did Whitney diss Jennifer at the BET Honors? The Salahis host at Vegas nightspot Pure, and it's as weird as you'd expect. Dr. Ruth refuses to give advice to Peter Orszag (well, he wasn't asking). Harold Ford does not shoot children, in case you were wondering.

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Amy Argetsinger: Good morning everyone! Glad to have you here and to be back on our normal time and place. I'm just back from the Salahi appearance before the congressional committee and may have to break away to spend some time writing that.... but I'll wait until Rox gets here, okay? Bring us your questions...

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Washington, D.C.: Amy -- having met gate crasher number 3, what is your take on him? Is he just being disingenous now, or was he really duped/confused/dumb?

Amy Argetsinger: Carlos Allen. That was one of the weirdest interviews of my life. The guy is potentially in serious trouble, which is when your lawyer normally tells you to keep your mouth shut around reporters -- but Carlos is talking and talking. And while he says he wants to clear his name, he's also being Mr. Bon Vivant, telling funny stories ("I just wanted to dance with Michelle Obama" and all that). All I can guess is that his media/legal strategy involves presenting this picture of a guy who was just looking to have fun, meant no harm. Link to follow.

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After today's testimony: Do you think we'll be done with the Salahis? (Please, please, please say, "yes!")

Amy Argetsinger: I'm sorry.

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No Tuesday Column: Is the real reason because you were trying to think up things to write about the Golden Globe awards, but couldn't come up with anything? Or do you two go on some sort of retreat that weekend?

Amy Argetsinger: Monday was a holiday, and it's nice to actually be able to take one of those holidays now and then. And since Monday is when we're writing Tuesday's column -- no column.

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Salahis: Ugh -- what a snooze fest hearing! I know it was expected, but... :(

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, it was a hoot, actually. Every committee member lining up to tongue-lash the Salahis, each expressing more outrage than the last. It was definitely better than I expected.

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washingtonpost.com: White House gate crashers invoke Fifth Amendment (AP, Jan. 20)

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Woodbridge, Va.: Dr. Ruth is still around? Is she 100 years old yet?

Amy Argetsinger: She's 81. And lots of fun.

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BET awards: So, for what exactly was Whitney Houston being honored? I was having a hard time figuring it out. She doesn't seem to have done anything lately.

washingtonpost.com: Update: Did Whitney Houston snub Jennifer Houston at the BET Honors? ((Post, Jan. 20)

Roxanne Roberts: Her comeback album just went double platinum (Grammys didn't nominate it, didn't get great reviews, but I think she was really being honored for cleaning up her act. Lots of love in the room.

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Washington, D.C.: In your story about the Rob Kampia, the director of the Marijuana Policy Project going to rehabilitation for sexual misconduct, did you verify his claim that the sex was consensual? I understand that you may not have access to the woman involved, but isn't it a stretch to call it a "hookup" when 7 people quit as a result of what happened?

washingtonpost.com: Marijuana Policy Project's Rob Kampia takes therapy leave after sexual misconduct ((Post, Jan. 19)

Amy Argetsinger: Look, we don't know exactly what went on in that room, but we're reporting that seven people quit as a result of what Kampia did. So it's pretty clear that whatever happened (and there are a lot of questionable dynamics here, including the involvement of alcohol, the boss-subordinate power imbalance) that many people close to the matter were troubled by it.

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Sen. Centerfold: So, how does having a former Cosmo centerfold liven up D.C.'s gossip scene?

Amy Argetsinger: Too soon to tell. Monica Hesse dissected some of these dynamics in today's paper though. Link to follow.

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Reston, Va.: I'm curious about how you two collaborate? Do you each write your own stories or do you jointly contribute? Review each other's work? Big fan.

Amy Argetsinger: All of the above.

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Bethesda, Md.: Any sightings of filming of Real Housewives of D.C. lately? I know after the crash scandal, they were seen filming sans Michaele. And now Bravo has announced 3 picks for the Beverly Hills franchise. Maybe Bravo is ditching the D.C. bunch?

Amy Argetsinger: It's my understanding they've still been filming here and there. I don't think anyone knows what's going to happen with this series, Bravo included.

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Manassas, Va.: I love your articles, especially those on the "rumored" Real Housewives of D.C. I saw pictures of Stacie Turner, another rumored cast member, at the BET Honors event. Did you not see her there with Mary Amons, whom you highlighted?

Roxanne Roberts: I didn't see Stacie, but there were 2,000 people there Saturday night. The only reason I noticed Mary was the skin-tight, low-cute sequined mini-dress she was wearing. I didn't see any cameras following her in the Warner Theatre. Maybe they were outside?

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Houston, Tex.: Had to laugh at the blurb in my new local paper that the Obamas went to a "tony Washington restaurant" for Michelle's birthday and then continued to read that it was Restaurant Nora -- too funny to see how things get translated when it is non-local.

Roxanne Roberts: Nora is pretty upscale, so I don't think that description is off. It's no Five Guys or something that casuasl. What would you call Nora's?

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washingtonpost.com: It's okay. Sen. Brown was just being a (naked) man. (Post, Jan. 20)

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LOL! The REAL winner of yesterday's Massachusetts Senate race...: ...could well be Levi Johnston, who can now use Scott Brown's nude Cosmo centerfold as ammunition against Bristol Palin's contention that his own posing for Playgirl photos contributes to his unfitness to have even partial custody of their baby!

washingtonpost.com: Sen. Scott Brown Cosmo Picture

Amy Argetsinger: Huh. Hadn't thought of it that way. Come on, you just wanted an excuse to get us to show these pictures again.

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No column on Tuesday: So, did you two actually have Monday off? (I did not. I work in higher ed.)

Roxanne Roberts: We actually did---although worked Saturday and Sunday covering the BET Honors. Gossip columnists need holidays, too!

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Washington, D.C.: Regarding your articles about the White House Crashers; have one thing to ask? How did the Gomez Salon only charge $270 dollars for over 8 hours of services?

Amy Argetsinger: I think it was more like six hours that they were in the salon. But Michaele only really got two services during that time -- hair and makeup. But our understanding is that they took up an unusual amount of time because of the Bravo cameras doing takes and retakes. Also, they lingered a while getting dressed upstairs at the salon. And waiting for their limo to show.

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I always enjoy the Golden Globes: but this year, Ricky Gervais really cracked me up. I was also intrigued with Drew Barrymore saying to Justin Long "I love you," after her win was announced. I thought they weren't a couple.

Roxanne Roberts: They've been on and off, so that didn't surprise me. I had mixed feeling about her dress, however. Loved the color and shimmer, but not the sea urchins on her shoulder and hip.

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Montclair, N.J.: What has the TV network (Bravo) producing the "Housewives of D.C." said about this incident....

Thanks.

Amy Argetsinger: A lot of non-comment, mostly. They've acknowledged that the Salahis were in contention for the show, but insist they hadn't made any final decisions about casting. They acknowledge that they filmed them the day of the state dinner, but say they took the Salahis' word for it that they were invited.

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Ashburn, Va.: So, I just listened to the attorney for the Salahis bloviate on behalf of his clients. He claimed that this wasn't a publicity stunt, please, their whole life is a publicity stunt. I'm surprised anyone still cares about them; it seems that interest in them has waned dramatically which is why they showed up to the hearings and had their attorney make that "statement." Any word on whether or not Bravo has made a decision or are they waiting to see if the Salahis are indicted?

Amy Argetsinger: See above, regarding Bravo. There was quite a crowd at that hearing today, and, well, you're all here talking about it, so interest seems to be sustained!

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State College, Pa/: I think that the Salahi story is WAAAYYY better than anything any reality show could have dreamed up. The next show will be about similar folks trying to crash a dinner at Buckingham Palace or something like that. Can you just imagine?

Keep it coming!

Cheers.

Amy Argetsinger: Ha! Thanks.

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Detroit, Mich.: What do the Salahis and Carlos Allen have in common? They both gave this image of wealth, success and high society, when in fact they are actually all broke! Kind of ironic, dont you think?

Amy Argetsinger: Interesting, huh?

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Washington, D.C.: Did anyone ask the question to the Shalahis that I would have: Why in the world did you think you belonged there?

Amy Argetsinger: I have to check my notebook. The members of congress kept rephrasing the question, amid sputters of outrage, and one of them probably did put it that way. There was a LOT of scolding.

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Maryland: Why was Kampia's lover not identified?

Roxanne Roberts: "Lover" is too strong a term. The two hooked up for one night, after which she resigned. The attention is on Kampia because he was her boss and considered the one who abused his position by having sex with her. As far as I know, her name has not been made public.

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Virginia: Last week's chat about sorority women... well, most married women I know who stayed home are sorority members (and well-coiffed and bronze tone-bodies) while the non-members go to work with their kids in day care.

Amy Argetsinger: Please. I'm not sure this debate was really all that interseting. It was very, well, sophomoric.

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Gift from the Bay State: Politics aside: You two should be excited to get such a fun new senator from Massachusetts -- former pin-up boy, father of an American Idol finalist. Are you looking forward to reporting on Sen. Scott Brown?

Roxanne Roberts: I look forward to any politician who makes news for the column---but as you know, there aren't too many highjinks in the senate. Look at Al Franken---when is the last time he cracked us up?

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Virginia: What's with Cheryl Mills? At her recent press showing on Haiti a few days, she showed more cleavage than most Obama women staffers. Not exactly a mix with disaster..

Amy Argetsinger: Just looked up the photos. Come on: She's showing some clavicle, not really any cleavage.

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Arlington, Va.: So, will new Sen. Brown be organizing some sort of Senate Beefcake calendar? Frankly, the thought of seeing those wizened old geezers in the all-together would put me off food for at least a week! (maybe Mark Warner would pass the test).

Roxanne Roberts: Not a chance.

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Salahis at Pure: $5,000 to host? That's it? Surely they got something more. And they waived the fee because it would just go right to some debt that's already gone through the court process, right?

Amy Argetsinger: I don't know. It all makes my head hurt.... To those just catching up, the Salahis were the celeb "hosts" at Pure in Vegas on Saturday, and announced that they were "waiving" their fee, though didn't make clear what they meant. They also asked everyone in the club to shout for the people of Haiti.

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Washington, D.C.: Unlike the Shalahis, who I just find revolting, I left reading your article on Carlos feeling kind of sad for him. He kind of comes off as a bit of a sad sack and a schmuck. He shouldn't have done what he did, of course, but I could totally see that he didn't understand the consequencces of his actions or think his actions through -- while the Shalihis had to actually plot their scheme.

Amy Argetsinger: Well, I'll say this in the defense of both the Salahis and Carlos Allen -- I'm assuming that whatever was going on, however much premeditation, on a certain level none of them must have understood the full consequences of their action. Because remember, both the Salahis and Allen, after managing to get into a place where they weren't invited, both went on to post photos of themselves at the White House on Facebook -- fully bragging that they were there. Which suggests that on a certain level, they didn't realize there was such a thing as an official guest list that would be made public, which would show all their friends that they weren't supposed to be there. So whatever else is going on, there's also a bit of naivete.

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Fairfield, N.J.: Did Ms. Jones encourage the Salahis to go to the White House and try to get in "just in case" they made the list at the last minute? Were they technically invited?

Amy Argetsinger: They were not invited, according to the White House and Secret Service. The Salahis' e-mails with Michele Jones indicate that she gave them some hope that she'd "try" to get them invited. But she has also said she didn't have that power and didn't put them on any list -- and that she called to tell them it wasn't going to work out.

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Silver Spring, Md.: What do believe is the strategy behind them taking the fifth?

Amy Argetsinger: Obviously, they're worried about being criminally prosecuted based on their statements...

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Ke$ha: Do you suppose she's really as obnoxious and stupid as she comes across? Or is that a character, a la Lady Gaga? She does have a great voice when she's actually singing, but the rest of the time, she reminds me of Drunk Girl, the one-time SNL character.

Amy Argetsinger: Is it possible to be obnoxious and stupid while also actively trying to convince people you're obnoxious and stupid? Or think about it from another angle: Is the fact that you're trying to portray yourself as obnoxious and stupid make you actually obnoxious and stupid. Whatever. She's a star!

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Buckingham Palace: Actually their record isn't much better: remember when someone gate-crashed one of William's birthday parties? It might have been at Windsor Castle, but still...

Roxanne Roberts: Yes, but the far more serious crasher was the guy who got into Buckingham Palace and ended up in the Queen's bedroom. Luckily, no one was hurt in either incident.

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Salahis revisited: : All they have to do to show they are lying is to look at the video tape Bravo shot of them at the salon. According to the 'hair artist' who spilled everything to ET at first and is now playing the 'I don't speak about my clients card,' they said they asked to SEE Michaele's invite; she rummaged around her purse and then said she left it in the car. However, e-mail exchanges show that the Pentagon worker was still trying to get them in, they would be on a list. They knew they weren't invited. They should be arrested at least for trespassing. they HAD to have lied to get in.

My dog lies better than these two......

Amy Argetsinger: Well, lying to a "hair artist" about whether you have a state dinner invitation isn't exactly a prosecutable offense... There's an argument made in some quarters that they didn't necessarily have to lie to get in -- that an agent let them in mistakenly thinking they were on a list, and they just rolled with that. Or something. We don't really know the full story yet.

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Drew's dress ornaments?: You called them sea urchins. Your Washington Post colleagues who blogged Sunday night referred to them as hedgehogs or porcupines. We had something like that on the back step to clean mud off our shoes back in the days.

Amy Argetsinger: Yes, THAT'S what they are! Fashion-forward, our Drew.

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Golden Globes Dresses: I always feel like I must have the worst taste in the world when I see how the "experts" rate red carpet dresses. I almost always have the opposite opinion. I think they just rate the "in" crowd well, no matter what they wear (think January Jones) and the "out" crowd poorly, even if they are wearing something really neat (think Kate Hudson). You opinion?

Amy Argetsinger: My opinion is that everyone's entitled to their opinion.

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Can we talk about..: Bradley Cooper for a minute? He is so delicious! I'm so jealous of Renee. Any chance he might be coming to D.C. area to film a movie sometime soon?

Roxanne Roberts: No plans about D.C. that I'm aware of. As for Renee: If her track record with boyfriends is any indication, their romance will implode any minute now. Poor thing. I was, however, happy that the "Hangover" won for best comedy at the Golden Globes.

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NoVa: Re the Salahis non-testimony: What's up with her lips? Does she think that looks good?

Amy Argetsinger: Whether you love her, hate or, or think she needs a makeunder -- you have to admit that Michaele is a definite "presence."

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Manassas, Va.: Is there a live video feed for the Salahi hearing I can check out online?

washingtonpost.com: Videotape: Salahis appear before Congress, say little ((AP, Jan. 20)

Amy Argetsinger: Here's the video..

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Falls Church, Va.: Guys, have you given Tim Robbins a call yet to lend him support for his breakup with Susan?

Amy Argetsinger: I don't think Tim takes calls from The Reliable Source. A situation we inherited from Lloyd.

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Washington, D.C.: Thanks for continuing the long tradition of fueling men's librarian fantasies by writing "naughty" and "librarian glasses" in the same sentence in today's article.

Really, I mean it.

Signed, A librarian

Amy Argetsinger: Oh, that was Monica's story. You can chat with her at 1 p.m.

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Washington, D.C.: Any word on who did her hair for the congressional hearing? Do you think she showed them her "invitation" from Congress?

Amy Argetsinger: Haha.

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Rockville, Md.: The thing I like the best about the Salahis story is that everyone makes the facts fit their attitude. Either they were lying or sneaking or doing something wrong. I actually think they blundered in and it was a service to find that hole int he security.

Just a thought.

Amy Argetsinger: Thanks for your vote.

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Hollywood: Saw a public service spot the First Lady did for aid to Haiti and she looked weird -- odd helmet hair and sort of a faraway look. Is she okay or overworked or what?

Amy Argetsinger: "Odd helmet hair... a faraway look" = job requirement for political spouses.

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Walla Walla, Wash.: Fascinated by the two marijuana stories in your blog because a few months back (before medical mary jane was the rage) you two wouldn't even admit to inhaling if even by osmosis...

Amy Argetsinger: Dude, I'm not following.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Ladies: This probably isn't part of your purview, but I was in the salon last night reading People magazine and was quite troubled by the cover girl, Heidi Montag. Apparently, she's had a bunch of plastic surgery and is basically unrecognizable. Why does someone do that? She was a pretty girl before, but now she looks completely fake. Who does that?

washingtonpost.com: People Magazine

Amy Argetsinger: I know, what is up with that? Ten procedures in a day -- and she's 23 years old. She's made herself look totally banal, and about 10 years older. It should be a cautionary tale for everyone.

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Please. I'm not sure this debate was really all that interesting. It was very, well, sophomoric. : Because that WAS the highpoint of most sorority girls' lives: Sophomore year.

Amy Argetsinger: Okay, explain the joke, if you must.

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Washington, D.C.: When will be the next state dinner? I assume everyone will be screened three times -- outside, in gate by door inside the WH.

Roxanne Roberts: The White House hasn't announced another one yet----the next big formal dinner will be for the nations Governors, which is held at the end of February.

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Reston, Va.: The Salahis asked for patrons to give a shout-out for Haiti? I may have to reconsider my low opinion of them...I didn't realize that they were such humanitarians.

Shout for Haiti? Are these people brain dead?

Roxanne Roberts: Most of the time.

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What I still don't get about the Salahis: is how Michaele was up for "Real Housewives of D.C." when she lives in Warren County, Va. A little far from the Beltway to meet the criteria, I would think.

Amy Argetsinger: That's been the joke about "Real Housewives of D.C." since way before the state dinner scandal. It was shaping up to be the "Real Housewives of McLean and Potomac." Very suburban. And no one with any particular D.C. flavor, from politics or government.

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washingtonpost.com: Love, etc.: Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins split ((Post, Dec. 23, 2009)

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State College, Pa.: Wait, what?? Tim Robbins broke up with Susan Sarandon? I can't believe it!

Amy Argetsinger: Yep. They actually separated over the summer, apparently, but the news didn't come out until just before Christmas. Link to follow.

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New York, N.Y.: Anthony Weiner's answer to the Harold Ford Jr. question about going to run for U.S. Senate in Tennessee was pretty funny, right?

Amy Argetsinger: Missed it. Tell me?

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Minneapolis, Minn.: RE: Roxanne Roberts: I look forward to any politician who makes news for the column -- but as you know, there aren't too many highjinks in the Senate. Look at Al Franken -- when is the last time he cracked us up?

ANSWER: Everytime we (Minnesota) remember that he's now OUR senator. And he tries so hard to be taken seriously (he's DECIDED that HE will go to Afghanistan and say IF WE SHOULD send more troops to Afghanistan...who does he think he is, president? HA HA!

Roxanne Roberts: Ran into Sen. Franken at a dinner last night at the Japanese embassy---he scandalized his table mates by spending the whole night on his cell phone. Then again, the Scott Brown upset had everyone (including me) checking their BlackBerry for updates.

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Bethesda, Md.: It makes me laugh when you tell how outraged the Congress people were. It reminds me of a story my old poli sci professor told me when he heard a congressperson describe a "RIMO" day. Righteous Indignation and Moral Outrage.

Amy Argetsinger: ha.

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Gosselin: So, we don't care that he was in D.C. this week? We're over him? (Jon Gosselin Takes Girlfriend to D.C. (RadarOnline))

Amy Argetsinger: I just heard last night that he was skulking around town again, but hadn't yet come up with anything interesting to say about it. Later today, maybe...

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Medical Marijuana: A few months back? It's been the rage in California for a long time. All you need is your little prescription card and you are set. Well, that's what my friend said. I don't smoke...but just because it makes me paranoid and dizzy but blueberry MJ does sound intriguing.

Roxanne Roberts: Blueberry? Sounds dreadful. In a few years marijuana will be legal all over----and then it will be like designer vodkas and wine. Lots of potential for snob appeal.

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Bloomington, Ind.: QUOTE: "Harold Ford does not shoot children, in case you were wondering."

I don't get. What's that in reference to?

Amy Argetsinger: Sigh. Read our column! It's all online!

Link to follow, but here's the gist. The New York Times asked Harold Ford about his stance on guns, and he gave this endearingly daffy comment in reply:

"I don't own them. I do shoot them, and I shoot them at things that can't shoot back. And will continue to do that. And by that, I want to be clear, I don't mean children."

If he meant to be funny, it's pretty funny. If he didn't mean to be funny, it's hilarious.

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Arlington, Va.: Do you think Senator-elect Scott Brown's daughters are going to be the new Bush twins? I only saw them on TV during last night's election coverage, but what good looking ladies.

Amy Argetsinger: Everyone remember Ayla Brown from her 2007 stint in the American Idol semifinals? Pretty as can be.

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washingtonpost.com: Quoted: Harold Ford Jr. says he shoots guns - but not at children (Post, Jan. 13)

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Evanston, Ill.: Do Sasha and Malia have separate personalities?

I don't mean in private since of course in real life they actually do, but as far as the media image of them. "The funny one" or "the serious one" or "the more troubled one" or the "more at-ease one" is never used to describe them and it's always "Sasha and Malia.

Roxanne Roberts: That's because the Obamas haven't allowed reporters close enough to make characterizations like that. As they grow up and we get more opportunities to pursue their interests, we'll get a better sense of their personalities.

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Because that WAS the highpoint of most sorority girls' lives: Sophomore year.: The point being they don't have careers or substance, they were just in college to catch MR. and once that's done, that's their life: Being Mrs.Fraternity Boy.

Roxanne Roberts: Kids, can we stop with the stereotypes? There are great women who joined sororities and who didn't, who married and didn't, who work outside the home and don't. We've covered this ground plenty of times before. Just because one sorority member said something wildly stupid doesn't justify wholesale bashing. Plus, as we all know by now, being Mrs. Frat Boy isn't all that.

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Susan Sarandon: Wow, she looks amazing for 63

Roxanne Roberts: She looks amazing, period.

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Washington, D.C.: What is up with all the hate for sorority girls? I was a sorority girl and proud of it. I don't wear makeup, I don't go tanning and my sophomore year was not the highlight of my life. My sorority was full of very down to earth girls who are now successful women. Some have their kids in daycare, some are stay at home moms. You cannot make a sweeping generalization about sorority girls; it's ignorant.

Roxanne Roberts: See?

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Washington, D.C.: I'm feeling dumb -- I basically never watch awards shows, but I'll always come across some discussion in the next day or so of some dress someone was wearing. Can you give me the definitive answer: Where should I go to find these dresses people are talking about? Is there one of the cheesy gossip magazines that reliably posts them all on their website or something? In the past, I've tried to google around and given up.

Roxanne Roberts: Your best bet are the entertainment websites---People, E Online, US Weekly---who put up extensive photo galleries of the best and worst gowns. For a more sophisticated take, I'd look at the Post's coverage and photo, where Robin Givhan rated her favorites.

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Pittsburgh, Pa.: Can you imagine the condemnation if a FEMALE Senate candidate had posed without clothing for a magazine centerfold? The double standard is most definitely alive and well.

Amy Argetsinger: That's the gist of Monica's story (link above, I think).

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Anonymous: Sasha and Malia as "the funny one" or "the troubled one."

Kind makes me think of The Beatles rather then two grade school girls.

Roxanne Roberts: Yeah---or any boy band.

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Washington, D.C.: @Evanston, Ill.

Remember Gwen Ifill saying on TV that Sasha stood out to her and she's hilarious with the one-liners.

That counts, right?

Roxanne Roberts: Not until we can hear a few ourselves.

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Chantilly, Va.: "Sorority girls" -- I wonder if all the hating on them comes from the horror films, which show them as mindless sex bunnies, cruel to nerds, and thinking only of their hair, makeup, clothing, and next partner. Mind you, I'm not saying they ARE like that, just that it's how they're usually depicted.

Roxanne Roberts: You've got a point there.

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washingtonpost.com: Gallery: Golden Globes/Red Carpet

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washingtonpost.com: Gallery: Golden Glodes Broadcast

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Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock kiss: How can we stop the madness?

Roxanne Roberts: No chance that they will both win an Oscar for Best Actress, so that was probably a one-night thing.

But, as you know, we do love madness (the fun kind.) Send your tips and sightings to reliablesource@washpost.com, and come back next week for our very serious examination of the week's best centerfolds. Cheers.

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