Taking An Activist Approach

Every year around this time, community organizer Carol Fennelly tries to find a new way to get through the anniversary of homeless activist Mitch Snyder's 1990 suicide.

"There was a lot of difficulty in our relationship," said Snyder's longtime companion, who celebrates her 50th birthday tonight with a big bash at the Mansion on O Street. "In keeping with the nontraditional way we lived, Mitch and I were married after he died."

A week after she scattered Snyder's ashes, Fennelly told us: "I've developed a sick sense of humor about it. I say guilt is the gift that keeps on giving. Mitch died nine years ago July 5. One year I had all my friends over for a big party. That didn't work too well. Other years I went to church. Last year I did nothing, thinking that I might as well sit home alone and be maudlin."

This year she's leaving town and probably not coming back. Fennelly--who has been working with the local anti-poverty group Sojourners--and her Australian shepherd, Blue, will hit the road next month for Youngstown, Ohio, where she plans to start Hope House, to aid the families of Lorton prison inmates who are being relocated there.

Whatever You Say, Dan

Armadillos have the smallest brains for their size and body weight of any animal in North America," Texas good ol' boy Dan Rather told us the other day. Why did he tell us? Why not? "And when they're completely startled, they can leap six or seven feet straight up in the air." Kind of like a politician? "You said that, not me," the CBS anchor demurred.

Rather--who'll be dropping by Politics and Prose tonight and speaking at the National Press Club tomorrow to flack his essay collection, "Deadlines and Datelines"--also had some choice insights about horned toads.

"The horned toad, on occasion, in desperate defense, will spurt blood at you from his eyes. How many politicians do you know who've given you that kind of response?"

For readers who may be weirded out by all this, Rather tried to be reassuring: "I can promise anyone who shows up for the Politics and Prose signing or the Press Club luncheon that I will not have an armadillo or a horned toad with me."

THIS JUST IN . . .

* Republican and Democratic House members, led by Reps. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) and Martin Olav Sabo (D-Minn.), square off at 7 o'clock tonight for the 38th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Baysox stadium in Bowie. The game benefits the Washington Literacy Council, the Bowie Health Center and the Police Boys and Girls Club.

* And they have time for their clients, too? Husband-and-wife legal team Joe DiGenova and Victoria Toensing insist they do, even while marketing themselves as "the Nick and Nora Charles" of politics and the law. They're co-hosts and part owners of "On the Case," a daily syndicated TV show being financed and distributed by Pearson Television and aiming for a fall debut.

* Stephen King, who must be feeling as if he's trapped in one of his horror novels, underwent a third operation yesterday for severe injuries suffered in a weekend traffic accident.

* Capping a visit to New York on Monday, President and Hillary Rodham Clinton will see the Broadway revival of "The Iceman Cometh" starring Clinton supporter Kevin Spacey.

* Texas Gov. George W. Bush has a blood relative touting his presidential candidacy on Washington's morning drive-time radio. Z-104 cutup Billy Bush, G.W.'s 27-year-old first cousin and the son of ex-president George Bush's younger brother Jonathan, gushed yesterday over his kin's Washington mega-fund-raiser, and--while chatting with The Source--made fun of Vice President Gore's lame-o Spanish. Fairness Doctrine, anyone?

CAPTION: Billy Bush: Biased, maybe?

CAPTION: Rather: Talking up weird wildlife.

CAPTION: After scattering the remains of Mitch Snyder, Carol Fennelly is moving to Ohio.

CAPTION: Each in its fashion, the New York papers were in a tizzy yesterday over Mayor Rudolph Giuliani zapping the Brooklyn Navy Yard site of Tina Brown's Talk magazine launch party because Senate rival Hillary Clinton is Talk's first cover girl. Aside from the Post, there was the Daily News: "PARTY POOPER." And, of course, that zippy New York Times: "In Losing Its Party Location, A Magazine Gains the Buzz."