This time, the Eagles may have landed in a hornet's nest.

The Washington Press Club's annual "Salute to Congress," which attracts everybody who is anybody in the Washington power structure, is the same night--Jan. 26--as the big Eagles fund-raiser. That's the Republican National Committee's yearly pitch to the party's monied elite for more than moral support. And all involved, from the White House on down, are upset about it.

WPC president Miles Benson said the committee checked out the date with the DNC, the RNC and the White House in mid-September to make sure there were no conflicts. After being assured there weren't, they went ahead and booked the Sheraton Washington, signed a contract and began sending out VIP invitations. One of those invitations went to presidential counselor Edwin Meese, who alerted one WPC committee member that there was a conflict.

Further checking revealed that the RNC was staging its big fund-raiser at 30 small dinner parties all over town that night.

"They told us it was going to be a problem--at least the senators and White House staff would be very busy that night," said Benson. "Phil Smith [at the RNC] convinced me there was no way to change their schedule."

However, when the press club considered changing its schedule, it turned out to be equally impossible. "There were no options at all. We decided to go ahead and not change the date," said Benson.

White House Chief of Staff James Baker reportedly expressed concern to one Press Club member over the foul-up. Later, "Baker checked and found they had fumbled on their side and that we were righteous," said Benson.

But yesterday, Bill Greener, director of communications for the RNC, seemed less conciliatory. "I don't know who was first out of the box -- who checked with whom on it," he said.