As new Texas Gov. Ann Richards put it, it was "no big deal" being under the same roof with fellow Texan George Bush, whom she had not seen or spoken to since before she zinged him in her keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention with: "Poor George, he can't help it -- he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."
Bush, smarting over the remark, subsequently insisted he never listened to any of that Bush-bashing, though he later sent Richards a sterling silver foot pin. In contrast, Barbara Bush had been offended and told one interviewer on the campaign trail, "No lady she."
But Sunday night at the White House, all that was history, and bygones seemed to be bygones as the Bushes welcomed Richards to their annual midwinter dinner honoring the nation's governors.
"The president seemed genuinely glad to see her," according to one eyewitness report from the East Room, where Richards, 44 other governors, the Cabinet and White House senior staff members went through a receiving line on their way to a pheasant and wild rice dinner.
Richards had invited Rep. Charles Wilson (D-Tex.), a longtime political ally and friend, as her escort for the evening. His was a face long familiar to both Bushes, and when Mrs. Bush spotted him, she turned to Richards with, "Governor, I'm not sure your reputation can stand this."
"I know, I know," said Richards.
Yesterday, Wilson's office laid to rest any speculation about a Wilson-Richards romance. In a tongue-in-cheek statement, Wilson was quoted as saying:
"I've been after Ann for years but she keeps telling me I'm too old for her."
Richards could not be reached for comment. To no one's surprise, Kitty Kelley's forthcoming biography, "Nancy Reagan," will move the former First Lady out from behind the throne right onto the throne itself when Simon and Schuster delivers a first printing of 600,000 copies in May.
"In effect, she ran this country," says Kelley, who found that out by talking to 1,002 of what Kelley's publicists describe as Reagan administration officials, White House secretaries, co-stars, relatives and friends. No mention was made of Nancy Reagan's enemies but, presumably, there were some of those too.
Sandi Mendelson of Hilsinger-Mendelson, the New York publicists hired by Simon and Schuster to promote the book, says Kelley's sources all knew they were being interviewed and are "meticulously" documented, though they are "not necessarily" all identified by name. "A lot of them are, but I don't know if all 1,002 are referenced in the book," she says.
Kelley told Publishers Weekly that when she researched her biography on Frank Sinatra, many sources feared for their lives by talking to her. For the Nancy book, she claims, her sources were "even more frightened. ... You see, when you lose your life, it's one thing: 'Boom' -- it's over. But Nancy Reagan can have you tarred, have your taxes audited or make you lose your job or corporate board position. It's an insidious kind of power that has people genuinely terrified."
Eventually, 1,002 of those people threw tax returns, jobs and corporate board positions to the wind and surrendered to the nobler calling of "setting the record straight."
As Kelley explains it: "They realized that I was trying to get hold of history."
Even if Barbara Bush didn't hear President Bush yelling for her to "bail out" as she zoomed down a hill on her way to a broken leg last month, she did hear Arnold Schwarzenegger. And if you want to know what she thinks about him, well, it's the last time she ever goes sledding with an actor.
"The last thing I heard as I headed for the trees was, 'Break a leg,' " she told reception guests from the Leukemia Society of America, who brought her a get-well memento: a wooden sled that had been custom-fitted with a General Motors seat belt.
And for Valentine's week, "Entertaining People," the annual fund-raiser that has given $1.3 million to the Washington Home, has come up with "Entertaining Tete-a`-Tete" as the theme for make-believe "vignettes" of how people socialize.
Opening at a gala dinner Feb. 12 for a five-day run at the Mayflower Hotel, the show will feature 18 tete-a`-tete exhibits, including Sen. Ernest Hollings's Charleston, S.C., front porch, former drug czar William Bennett's Washington treehouse, fashion designer Mary McFadden's Athenian flat and Marvin Hamlisch's garden hideaway.
Hamlisch's vignette, titled "Heaven Can Wait" and featuring a live bird and a life-size harp, may be the most romantic of them all. An enthusiastic supporter of the show (in January he entertained Washington Home residents), Hamlisch recently surprised organizers when he announced that he had written a special song for preview night that he himself planned to sing.
Not all his singing is solo, however. He and Terre Hamlisch have been singing (if not literally, figuratively) of their amorous good fortune ever since they were introduced by housekeepers and began carrying on a coast-to-coast courtship by telephone. When Hamlisch eventually arrived on Terre Blair's doorstep to ask her to marry him, it was from behind a closed door.
That wouldn't be so remarkable were it not for the fact that until she opened the door, the former Ohio and California television personality and the Tony Award-winning songwriter had never met face to face.