Daryl Gates, Still Making (Radio) Waves

Harbor no illusions about Daryl Gates, former Los Angeles police chief and perennial firebrand: He's not fading quietly into retirement.

It's been two years since the videotaped beating of Rodney King ignited an explosive chain reaction that wracked Los Angeles -- and the nation -- and derailed Gates's four-decade police career. But as the wrenching second trial of the four accused police officers hurls toward jury deliberations this week, the man who shouldered much responsibility for the aftermath isn't in any mood to forget, or forgive.

"I don't want to sound paranoid, but I am somewhat," he says in an interview from L.A. "I'm convinced this attack on me had a much broader purpose."

"What bothers me most is that I've gone to college campuses to speak ... and the reaction I get, particularly from blacks, really hurts," he says soberly. "I've become a symbol of political oppression against blacks, and I've spent my life doing just the opposite -- providing a safe haven."

He has indeed been blamed by a range of critics for a variety of missteps, including mismanagement of the police department and not reacting quickly to the riots. And he in turn blames everyone from the Democrats to black groups to George Bush for his forced retreat last year.

"Jesse Jackson came to Los Angeles seven times to attack me. ... It was an opportunity to put the black cause out front. I became a thing that allowed them to grab headlines," he claims. And from the political side, the Democrats "saw this as an opportunity to attack a guy who had gone a long way to support Bush."

While he does concede the "lack of initial response of the Los Angeles Police Department in south-central," he segues into an indictment of city and state government for their lack of support.

Since September, the "Chief" (his preferred title) has mouthed off from behind a mike. Five afternoons a week, as a talk jock for an L.A. radio station, Gates delivers his right-leaning wisdoms a la Rush Limbaugh, spars with callers and guests and stokes his resentment by offering his less-than-objective view of what he's dubbed the "Trial of the Century."

Predictions are saved for his show, like when he recently told listeners that there's "not a chance in the world" that Theodore Briseno will be convicted. And in an interview, Gates didn't hide his contempt for the hand dealt the four. "Even if you put it in the worst light and said, yeah, they beat the guy and that's criminal ... these people have been made to look like international criminals," he tells The Post's Mary Alma Welch. "Humanity has done a terrible thing to these four men that's way out of proportion."

On top of the radio gig, Gates, 66, has written his autobiography and dabbled in computer software, and says he has a newsletter and several TV projects in development. He sadly admits that he no longer loves his home town. But he does feel safe.

"I've been a police officer for 43 years-plus," he says. "I know how to take care of myself."

Heart of Sharon Stone

It's starting to sound as if Sharon Stone is playing out one of her vampy roles, what with all the lurid details dribbling out about her new romance. Now enters the estranged wife of fiance Bill Macdonald pronouncing the actress "heartless." The soap opera started when reports surfaced a few weeks ago that Macdonald abruptly left his bride of several months (and girlfriend of eight years) for Stone. Next Macdonald and Stone announced their engagement and began showing off their respective rings.

Tonight we hear from Naomi Macdonald for the first time on -- where else?? -- "A Current Affair."

She drops the bombshell that she had a miscarriage due to the stress of her marriage collapsing. "Welcome to my nightmare, because that's what this is," Naomi says. "Sharon Stone took my dreams, she took my husband, she took my lover, she took my best friend.

"You know you don't just walk away from a 10-year relationship and announce your engagement 3 1/2 weeks later to someone else. We were not separated. We were not divorcing, and we were very happy. We were house-hunting. We were planning our future together. ... Sharon gets what Sharon wants." So it seems.

Putting His Cause Where His Mouth Is: Hall's Strike

Rep. Tony Hall is mad. To prove it, the Ohio Democrat yesterday started an open-ended, water-only fast to draw attention to the hunger crisis.

The final straw was the death last week of the Select Committee on Hunger, which the seven-term member chaired -- a victim, he says, of budget-cutting panic. "A lot of it had to do with freshmen coming in and wanting reform, but they threw the baby out with the bath water. They didn't know about the hunger committee and didn't care."

But Hall isn't looking back. "I'm upping the ante," he says. "The right to food is the most basic right in the world."

Which means Hall wants to make sure Congress doesn't abandon the issue along with the committee.

And how to bring those renegade freshmen around to his side? "I think they need to go work in a food bank and see some children die and see what it is for people to struggle," he says flatly. "They'll come away changed people if they spend a little time looking at the situation."

WE'VE HEARD THAT...

White House staffers are hoping that Bill Clinton attends their Seder in the Indian Treaty Room tonight to mark Passover. Caterer Sue Fischer is preparing a kosher meal.

Local actor Morgan Duncan didn't quite make the adjustment to daylight saving time: He showed up an hour late Sunday for Washington Stage Guild's current production of "The Makropoulos Secret." Actor and board member Bill Largess stepped in, appearing onstage before the matinee. "With the audience's permission I'll read on book -- use the script -- until the actor arrives," he said. "But don't be surprised when I'm replaced by a tall black man."

A British newspaper yesterday criticized Oscar winner Emma Thompson for her next role -- a lawyer who helps clear four men wrongly jailed for IRA bombings. "She fails to grasp that yet again the film and television world rises to condemn the errors of the British police and courts," the Daily Mail editorialized, "while seemingly passing over the terror, torture and death wrought by terrorists."