There was no tabloid headline this weekend reading "The Hunk Flunks." John F. Kennedy Jr., whom People magazine once described as "the sexiest man alive," could pick up the New York Post on Saturday to see on the front page, "The Hunk Finally Does It!" Apparently the third time proved to be the charm as the son of the late president passed the New York State bar examination after two highly publicized, embarrassing failures. The tabloid said it had learned of his success from unidentified "informed sources." Test results won't be announced until this week.

If he hadn't passed this time, the 29-year-old New York University Law School graduate would have lost his job as a prosecutor in the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. The Manhattan DA allowes his assistants three shots at the test and then they're out of work. Kennedy earns $30,000 annually as a prosecutor. He had also learned Friday that he had passed the Connecticut bar exam.

Out and About

While attempting to squelch one rumor, Barbara Bush may have thrown fuel on the fire for another. According to the current issue of Newsweek, the First Lady telephoned the magazine to deny "unbelievable rumors" that President Bush is planning to dump his arrogant chief of staff, John Sununu. "I am very, very fond of John Sununu," she told the magazine, which was released yesterday in advance of publication. "George thinks he's wonderful and so do I. I have absolute confidence in him."

However, when she was asked about National Republican Congressional Committee co-chairman Ed Rollins, who recently advised Republican candidates to distance themselves from the president, she coyly responded, "I can't hear you." ...

Lee Atwater, the Republican National Committee chairman who much preferred a political brawl to a prayer meeting, has changed his ways since the discovery that he has an inoperable brain tumor. In an interview with Knight-Ridder Newspapers, Atwater said he has found religion. "For the first time in my life, I don't hate somebody," he said. "I have nothing but good feelings toward people. It's just no point in fighting and feuding." Atwater has made peace with a number of people, including Columbia, S.C., attorney Tom Turnipseed. Atwater, a native of South Carolina, said one of the "low points" of his political career was the "jumper cables" comment he made during a 1980 congressional race regarding Turnipseed's shock treatment for depression. "My hope is you will grant a sick man a favor and try to forget it. ... There are very few people I need to get square with, and you're one of them," he wrote Turnipseed in a letter over the summer ...

Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps and George McGovern's 1972 running mate, will celebrate his 75th birthday in Kennedy style this weekend. There will be a dinner party and roast at the Potomac home he shares with his wife, Eunice, emceed by a Kennedy family pal, syndicated columnist Art Buchwald. It will be followed by a Best Buddies Charity Ball at Columbia Square. The evening benefits Best Buddies of America Inc., an organization founded in 1987 by Shriver's son Anthony to get college students to help people with mental retardation. The stellar evening will include the rock group Milli Vanilli, actors Dolph Lundgren and Carl Weathers and such sports figures as Charles Mann, Wilt Chamberlain and Carl Lewis ...

Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder, outgoing Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole, Jim Lehrer of "The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour" and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., deputy publisher of the New York Times, will be the presenters at the International Women's Media Foundation's first "Courage in Journalism" awards. The $5,000 awards were created for women journalists who have demonstrated "extraordinary bravery and dedication to pursuing their craft under difficult or dangerous circumstances." The winners, who will receive the award next Sunday at a dinner at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, are Washington Post reporter Caryle Murphy; El Espectador (Colombia) correspondent Maria Jimena Duzan; Romania Libera reporter Florica Ichim; and Radio Haiti correspondent Lilyanne Pierre Paul ...