The Day the Earth Shook

It was around 3 a.m. Istanbul time yesterday when Mother Nature rocked Bill Richardson's world. "It was horrible," the energy secretary told us from Turkey. "I was dead asleep after a long day, having flown all night from Nigeria and then having a long meeting with the president of Turkey. I woke up when the ground started shaking, and since I haven't been drinking for the last two months as part of my fitness regimen, I knew something was going on."

Swaying violently on the 12th floor of a 13-story downtown hotel, Richardson leapt out of bed in his underwear, and "I was thrown across the room and into the window," he said. "I looked outside and saw people running into the streets and lights going out all over Istanbul. It lasted, like, 45 seconds, which felt like an eternity." The quake measured a fearsome 7.8 on the Richter scale, but Richardson and half a dozen staffers traveling with him are okay. They spent much of yesterday helping coordinate emergency U.S. aid to Turkey, where at least 2,000 people are confirmed dead.

Of Moose and Man

* Never mind about "The Blair Witch Project." For scary, try Colorado Republican Rep. Bob Schaffer's tale about a recent nighttime encounter with a murderous female moose. "She had a look in her eyes saying, 'I don't know who you are, but I'm going to kill you,' " Schaffer told The Post's Juliet Eilperin, describing his near-death experience on a recess camping trip in Colorado's Roosevelt National Park. Strolling around a lake with his faithful mongrel, Mick, Schaffer "heard splashing in the water" and was confronted by a seven-foot-tall beast--which suddenly lunged at him. "I'm no Olympic sprinter," confessed Schaffer, who took cover behind three pine trees.

The moose began chasing Schaffer around a tree while Mick, "thinking that we're having fun," joined in. Schaffer threw rocks at the moose, which followed him into a clearing. "She was jumping up and down, trying to come down on me with her hooves." Schaffer again ran for a patch of trees, and leaves briefly obscured the moose's vision. "I just backed up away from her," and returned to camp with "blood dripping all over me"--the result of cuts and scratches. Though it happened a few weeks ago, Schaffer is still shuddering. "If she had gotten me, I'd be a goner." But if you think that's terrifying, try the 106th Congress.

THIS JUST IN . . .

* Gossip in the New York Daily News notwithstanding, Republican pundit Laura Ingraham and Democratic Sen. Bob Torricelli (N.J.) aren't locking lips--or anything else, we hear. Ingraham, for her part, told us: "I only discuss the personal lives of occupants of the Oval Office."

* Taking a break from his Arizona training for a still-undetermined boxing bout, our friend Mike Tyson will be at the Source Hip-Hop Music Awards tonight in L.A. to present the album of the year award. The show airs Friday on Channel 20.

* Weeks ago, we reported that conservative icon Jeane Kirkpatrick imprisoned her poodle, Jasper, in a parked car on a sweltering day with the windows rolled up in downtown Bethesda. At the time, Kirkpatrick's assistant dismissed the alleged violation of Maryland law as "a non-issue," and the tough-talking former United Nations ambassador threatened to duke it out in court with the cop who gave her a ticket. But yesterday Montgomery County officials told us she has meekly paid her $45 fine. Kirkpatrick didn't return our phone call.

WARREN WATCH

* Millionaire Los Angeles liberal Stanley Scheinbaum has been a close Beatty pal since 1972, when they toiled side by side in the bleeding-heart campaign of Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern. The two talk on the phone nearly every day. So we thought Scheinbaum could tell us whether Warren is really running for president. Silly us!

"He's very--how should I put this?--elusive," the 79-year-old Scheinbaum said yesterday. "What can I say? He's a star. It serves his purpose. He's very serious, but I also think he's having fun. He told me, 'You wouldn't believe all the interview requests I'm getting!' " So is Beatty going further with his tantalizing quest? Scheinbaum's bottom line: "If 'going further' means becoming a candidate, my guess is no. But if it means taking advantage of the podium, my answer is yes."