While George W. Bush busies himself with the first crisis of his presidential campaign, deciding which questions to answer and not to answer concerning past use of cocaine and other controlled substances, The Source recommends this high-precision scale to weigh his words--if not his stash--at the drug-use news conference he will inevitably have to hold. Appropriate for use by law enforcement agents, it's the Model PB3002, accurate to a hundredth of a gram and made by Swiss-headquartered Mettler-Toledo International.

W. can dip into his brimming campaign coffers for the $2,500 purchase price.

What's the Matter, Zahira?

* It's hair-pulling time at Zahira, the snooty salon at the Watergate Hotel. Owner Zahira Aziz is in a lather at hotel general manager Alfred J. Matter for not getting permission before escorting a delegation from the rival Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon and Spa through her space on Tuesday. Zahira (who doesn't use her surname) opened three years ago and has a long-term lease that apparently forbids competing hairdressers from operating at the Watergate. Among the heads clipped at the by-referral-only salon are former president George Bush, former secretary of state James Baker and former Republican National Committee chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr.--who came to Zahira's aid and lodged a complaint with the hotel over the visit.

"They're just all acting like brats," said another "former," Todd McMahon--until yesterday Zahira's creative director. McMahon includes his boss in that harsh assessment and said he quit over Zahira's "stick-in-the-mud" stance, because bringing Elizabeth Arden into the hotel "would be good for everyone involved." Zahira told us McMahon "didn't work out" and she couldn't trust him.

"I don't know what's the big deal," general manager Matter said. The hotel is looking to add a spa and Elizabeth Arden wanted to "gauge what's already on the premises," he explained. "As the landlord, I can enter the premises whenever, within reason, and business hours are within reason."


* Girding for the arrival of Kevin Bacon, Elisabeth Shue, William Devane and Josh Brolin, director Paul Verhoeven scouted Washington locations yesterday for the science-fiction thriller "Hollow Man." Two weeks of filming commence Sunday at the Pentagon, with shoots also scheduled at the Willard Hotel and an Alexandria house. On Tuesday, a climactic scene with Shue will be shot at a warehouse in Anacostia, with Oldies 100 radio jock Dave Adler playing a detective as one of the extras.

* What a difference a year makes. Yesterday President Clinton's 53rd birthday--unlike last year around this time, when he was forced to admit bad behavior with Monica Lewinsky--was festive and funny. The comedy highlight of the White House party was national security adviser Sandy Berger dressed up in a tie-dyed shirt, garish necklace and red bandanna, as Jesse "The Body" Ventura--who, incidentally, returns to the wrestling ring Sunday as a guest referee in Minneapolis.

* While the Clintons vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Vice President Gore resumes his distancing strategy today by heading off with wife Tipper and family for 10 days on exclusive, gated Figure Eight Island just off Wilmington, N.C.

* Warren Watch: Revealing those shapely presidential legs like a striptease artist, our good friend Beatty is considering doing a newspaper op-ed piece, we hear. "If he does it," said a Hollywood type who has been kicking ideas around with him, "you can bet he'll write it all himself."

Albert Brooks's Amusing Adventure

* "If Warren Beatty can, I can!" declared Albert Brooks. Indeed, he already has. Like Beatty (who may or may not be running, Brooks doesn't really care), he has advised a presidential candidate. "I went on the plane and helped write speeches for Michael Dukakis," Brooks told us, recalling the hapless 1988 Democratic nominee. "I wrote one of his famous jokes at the Al Smith Dinner: 'George Bush says it's time to give the country back to the little guy. Well, here I am!' " Despite that triumph, "the more I got involved, the more depressed I became," Brooks said. "I sat next to him on the plane once and I said to him in a diplomatic way, 'Governor, it's a good thing to poke fun at yourself.' And he said, 'Well, Albert, thank you very much, let me think about that, I'd like to go over it with my advisers.' " Brooks said he's happier as the writer, director and--with Sharon Stone and Andie MacDowell--star of "The Muse," a Hollywood satire opening next Friday.

Got a hot tip or a nagging question? Dish with Lloyd Grove today at 9 a.m. EDT at http://washingtonpost.com/ liveonline.