Alka-Seltzer Time

With his wife off gallivanting in New York state, President Clinton reverted to form this week by consuming a belly-bending array of foodstuffs during his tour of poverty pockets in the South and Midwest. "I ate too much," the president confided. What a surprise!

Here's a partial accounting of Clinton's intake from The Post's Charles Babington: At Monday lunch in Hazard, Ky., the president was offered fried catfish, fried chicken, beef sirloin, pork tenderloin, deviled eggs, fried apples and corn bread, all catered by Rocky's Ribs of nearby Bulan. Reporters who dined on the same menu weren't permitted to see precisely what Clinton put in his mouth, but caterer Rocky Hudson assured them that "the president is getting the same food, but in smaller portions." At Monday dinner at the Blues City Cafe in Memphis, Clinton chowed down on catfish again, along with ribs and steaks.

For Tuesday lunch in Clarksdale, Miss., he found himself at Hicks Bar-B-Q Doctors, where he tucked into owner Eugene Hicks's baby-back ribs, "world famous" hot tamales, potato salad and cole slaw. Later on at the Walgreen's in East St. Louis, Ill., he gazed longingly at a Hostess Fruit Pie--but did not publicly chomp on it--while recalling his dollar-a-day food regimen while a freshman at Georgetown. The fruit pie cost 15 cents in 1964, Clinton reminisced. A 16-ounce Coke cost another 15 cents. A three-inch-thick tuna sub cost 35 cents. The remaining 35 cents went for more coke and coffee. Ah, those were the days!

Sugar Ray and the Sweet Science

* Gentleman boxer Sugar Ray Leonard won five world championships and $100 million, retiring and staging comebacks countless times before quitting for good two years ago. Now he's discovered a less painful way to practice the sweet science: as a manager and agent.

"For about a year I've directed most of my energy to managing and representing fighters. Now I live vicariously through them," the 43-year-old Leonard told us from L.A. while tooling from Pacific Palisades to Santa Monica in his new Beetle. "I've had a couple of bumps and bruises and I know how the business has changed."

A motivational speaker and anti-drug activist who overcame his own struggle with controlled substances, Leonard will be at the D.C. Convention Center tomorrow lecturing some 5,000 members of Drug Abuse Resistance Education, otherwise known as D.A.R.E. He plans to contribute "a small percentage" of his clients' fees to the group. But he's well aware of the fight game's reputation for sharp business practices that leave boxers flat on the mat.

"What has happened a lot, historically, is these guys go through their career and when it's over they have nothing to show for their blood, sweat and tears," he told us. "My main objective is to bring some integrity back to the profession of boxing and assist these young men." One such young man might be a certain Potomac resident, currently training in Arizona for his next bout. "I've always said my phone line is open to Mike Tyson."


* Washington area members of the Royal Shakespeare Company's American Council dined in high style at Highgrove Tuesday night with Prince Charles and his significant other, Camilla Parker Bowles. "It was an intimate, nice event. Charles was very witty and Camilla looked radiant," local portrait photographer Philip Bermingham told us.

* Keeping up with the Joneses? First Cindy Crawford has a baby. Now ex-hubby Richard Gere has announced the pending birth of his first child, with actress Carey Lowell.

Book 'Em: Prodigal Prose

* A dozen literary- minded parishioners at Georgetown's Christ Church yesterday discussed "The Return of the Prodigal Son," Catholic priest Henri Nouwen's 1992 novel based on the story of the wayward son who squanders his inheritance but comes home to seek his father's forgiveness. Helping lead the discussion was ex-federal prison inmate Webster Hubbell, who knows a thing or two about prodigal behavior. The novel shows that "each of us has a little bit of the prodigal son in us," Hubbell told us after the meeting.

Hillary Rodham Clinton's former Arkansas law partner became associate attorney general and then a thrice-indicted criminal defendant. Hubbell faced charges ranging from mail fraud to tax evasion and spent 18 months in prison. Last week he agreed to plead guilty to misleading federal banking regulators in exchange for no further jail time. "I'm just glad it's all over, especially for my family and friends," Hubbell said. As for Nouwen's novel, "I really recommend it."

CAPTION: Hubbell, an authority on prodigal behavior.

CAPTION: Olympic eating? President Clinton and sandwich at a Wizards game in 1997.

CAPTION: An appropriate welcome for Clinton in Clarksdale, Miss., during his tour.

CAPTION: Leonard, speaking in D.C. tomorrow.

CAPTION: Crawford's baby.