Barnicle's New Gig, New Tune

Here's what Mike Barnicle has said about John F. Kennedy Jr.: He "has the body of Joe Piscopo and the brain of Sonny Bono." He "comes off sounding like some thin-lipped, dim-witted, bad-backed polo player whose empty head can barely retain enough limited cocktail chatter to get him through a dinner with that international moron, Princess Di."

That was two years ago--Aug. 14, 1997, to be exact--when Barnicle was still writing his column for the Boston Globe, and way before he became a JFK Jr. consultant for NBC News. Now he's singing a different tune on the air. "He lived a wonderful life, a proud life," Barnicle pronounced during one of his many on-camera appearances. "Never once did he do anything to cause any embarrassment to his family." Barnicle didn't return a phone call yesterday.

Upstaged Upstate

Apparently there are too many flies in the Adirondacks. The Clintons said yesterday that they'll relax next month in Martha's Vineyard, returning to their favorite vacation spot. Last month it was widely anticipated that because of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate race, they'd holiday in beautiful Upstate New York. An unnamed Hillary adviser then caused an uproar by telling the New York Daily News: "For them to go to fly-infested Adirondacks Park would be a mistake. People would see right through it as purely politics."

The first family will head to the Massachusetts island around Aug. 17 and remain there until Aug. 27, White House officials said. After that, the Clintons will drop into New York--East Hampton--for a Democratic National Committee weekend Aug. 28 and 29.

Speaking of Mrs. Clinton, an Orlando TV anchor didn't realize his microphone was live when he called the first lady "an old battle ax" earlier this week. During the broadcast of her arrival at Kennedy Space Center, WFTV's Steve Rondinaro said, "There she comes, the old battle ax. There she is with Chelsea in tow." He apologized moments later and won't be disciplined since he's leaving the station next month.

From State to Bait

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright tried her hand at a little salmon fishing on Thursday, during a refueling stop in Alaska on her way to an Asian diplomatic conference in Singapore.

But she didn't have much luck. According to the Associated Press, Albright got her line tangled in another angler's line, leading her to confess to her fishing companion, Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles (D): "I do need a lesson." Her aides later said, diplomatically, that she'd been casting, not fishing.

A Running Mouth?

TV talk show host Jerry Springer is sounding positively senatorial these days. He says he's "obviously flattered and honored" by Ohio Democratic Party officials' calls for him to challenge Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine (R) in the next election. "It's just that at this time I don't know whether it's practical or possible," Springer said. "In any event, I respect the seriousness of their inquiry and will respond in a timely, sincere and appropriate manner."

End Notes

Queen Elizabeth demoted royal footman Matthew King for getting her corgis drunk. According to a palace source, King "thought it was funny to see the dogs staggering about." . . . Boris Yeltsin has a new title: great-grandfather. His oldest granddaughter, Yekaterina Okulova, gave birth to a son on Thursday . . . Phil Collins is getting hitched today to his Swiss girlfriend, Orianne Cevey, a former interpreter for the Genesis lead singer.