Y'ALL COME . . . Well. Quite a little ripple among White Housers new and old. That tired old tale about Nancy dying for the Carters to blow out of the White House as swiftly as possible is doing a re-run -- with a hot new twist. (Remember the uproar? Nancy supposedly moaned that she wished Rosalynn and Jimmy would skip out before the Inauguration, so she could pitch into her decor chores.) Now, word's around among Rosalynn's close pals, about exactly why the Carters were so sure Nancy wanted them Out. They're saying that Blair House, where Nancy was lodging -- and chatting up First Decorator Ted Graber -- was bugged. And at least one tattler in the Carter tribe has described listening in to the Tape Itself. Now, the whole story's been carried back to the present White House inhabitants, by another tattler. Ear is absolutely appalled. Stay tuned, uh, whoever's listening.

NEXT TIME, JUST SAY "I KNOW WHAT I LIKE" AND MOVE ON TO THE 19TH CENTURY COLLECTION, PLEASE . . . Smiles all 'round among artists of the Washington Color School. (Ahem. It's our only Major Indigenous Art Movement, you know.) The Corcoran Gallery finally bought a biggie painting by the only Washington Colorist missing from its collection, Leon Berkowitz. "Coronation," it's called. (Sensitive multiple translucencies, interpenetrating. You know Leon's stuff.) Imagine the artist's shock, then, when he strode into the grand opening of the gallery's American painting show a week ago. "Coronation" had vanished. "Where's my painting?" cried he. "Oh," squirmed one Official. "We, um, moved it out for Solidarity Day. We were afraid the Workers might rush the gallery and maul it." Other blushing honchos gave other answers. All were different. Finally, in despair, Berkowitz cornered a janitor, and quizzed him. "Oh, yeah," quoth the Honest Man. "It was hanging at a big Corcoran Dinner the other night. A guest threw up on it." It was the Truth. The Color School is not everyone's cup of tea, you know. The pic's being restored, anyway.

HOME THOUGHTS FROM ABROAD . . . Ear trusts you remember dear John P. Sears, once a Reagan campaign hotshot but squeezed gently out right after the New Hampshire Primary. He, darlings, is now busily lobbying for South Africa, Cradle of White-Thinking on the Dark Continent. Friends report that he got mugged in Johannesburg the other day. Things are going very strangely on all fronts this week. Ear is glum.

SIGHTS OF THE CITY . . . Yes, darlings, that was Robert McNamara, spotted buying a Bible. (We call this the Nouveau Gossip. Remember when Ear used to spot Senators stuffing Penthouse under their raincoats?) . . . That was Sugar Ray Leonard, perched on the patio outside Hamburger Hamlet in Chevy Chase, engulfing raw oysters . . . That is Rep. Walter Jones, bouncing back with gusto. His second spot of surgery, in Walter Reed Hospital this summer, was a roaring success. It was to fix up his first, last February. That's the one where they left a sponge inside him. "At least it was free," sighs a pal. Ear doesn't mind paying for sponges at all. Wednesday: Ear, here.