Washingtonians are serious, sober people -- too important to be funny, at least intentionally. Rep. Morris Udall, however, is an intentionally funny man, and up on Capitol Hill where he has worked for nearly 30 years, that makes him unique. When he tried hard in 1976 to get the Democratic Party's nomination for president, it was frequently said -- even in print by columnist James J. Kilpatrick -- that Udall was too funny to be president.

Udall has thrown that phrase back in our faces with his new book, titled, of course, "Too Funny to Be President," a collection of jokes, tales and quips collected over three decades in politics. Udall says he sees jokes as public property and operates under columnist Art Buchwald's rule: "The first two times you use a joke, give your source credit. From then on, to hell with it! Be shameless -- claim it as your own." Udall was the man who got so tired of Jimmy Carter's talking about his small-town Georgia roots during the 1976 primary campaign that he countered: "I come from St. Johns, Ariz. (pop. 93), and know something about small towns. Why, I was in the fifth grade before I learned the town's name wasn't 'Resume Speed.' " This is a book that -- with Udall's specific permission -- speech givers can feel free to steal from liberally.

Out and About

That feisty new fortnightly The Washington Herald claims that the Soviets went to the diplomatic motor vehicle office to get their license plates changed. They now all have the letters FC on them. Apparently it was someone's idea of a joke. The C stands for communist, the paper reports, and the F "doesn't stand for 'friendly,' 'forthright,' or anything like that." The question is, will Mikhail Gorbachev be amused? ...

Carlos Van Leer, the 80-year-old former member of the Yale Glee Club who likes to wear a jester's outfit and play his accordion at public events around town, showed up on Capitol Hill Thursday to serenade at the Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless. In the continuing presummit anticipation he sang, "Gorbachev and Reagan should be friends ..." to music from "Oklahoma!" that normally has lyrics about farmers and cowmen. A Soviet television crew was there, and according to Van Leer, they were so impressed that they asked him to sing it for the folks back home. They promised that the coast-to-coast exposure in the Soviet Union would make him a star. And to think, about 60 years ago he was singing only to Yale Glee Club audiences ...

Tammy Bakker's 1984 metallic blue 380SL Mercedes convertible was sold for $43,000 at a car collectors auction in Newport Beach, Calif., Saturday. The buyer, William Yacobozzi of Newport Beach, gave the car to his wife, who immediately sat behind the wheel and hung a rosary over the rear-view mirror, saying the car "needed to be reblessed" ...

A pregnant Mary Beth Whitehead, the surrogate mother who became famous in the Baby M court case, married her live-in boyfriend, Dean Gould, 27, Saturday in Rahway, N.J. The wedding comes less than a month after Whitehead, 30, was divorced from Richard Whitehead, who said their marriage fell apart because of the pressure of the Baby M case. Whitehead had contracted with a New York couple to carry a child for them. After giving birth to a daughter, she reneged on the legal agreement, but lost custody of the child in a complicated, highly publicized court battle ...