* We badgered Michael Kinsley, the editor of Microsoft's online magazine Slate, for secret details of Vice President Gore's Monday visit with Bill Gates & Co. at corporate headquarters in Redmond, Wash., at the very moment that the Justice Department is suing the computer software behemoth for alleged monopolistic behavior. We're not sure, but it's possible that Kinsley was putting us on when he filed the following account of Gore's activities: "He tore off his clothes and went running through the office shrieking, 'I can't stand these earth tones.' Then he said he would appoint Bill Neukom, Microsoft's general counsel, to the Supreme Court. Then he lit up a joint and started listing all the heads of state of Third World countries. The usual, in other words."

* Marianne Gingrich has won a round in her messy divorce with Newt. A Georgia judge on Monday ordered the former House speaker to answer all of his wife's written questions, including whether he believes he's conducted his marriage "in accordance with the concept of 'family values.' " Marianne's attorney, Victoria Toensing, told us yesterday: "Newt's been treating his divorce like a political campaign. It's not. It's a legal proceeding."

* After only one year, Don Imus is throwing in the towel on his American Book Awards, which were supposed to be a populist alternative to tonight's elitist National Book Awards. "It was too much work," the radio curmudgeon kvetched to the New York Daily News. "It was a nightmare."

Return to Reaganomics

"I shop, therefore I am," Dodie Kazanjian told us.

Back when Ronald and Nancy Reagan ruled Washington and presided over their own version of the Great Society--which, by the way, had nothing to do with poor people-- Kazanjian was an eager apostle of glitz and glamour. During the go-go '80s, she worked as a deputy in the first lady's press office; then edited Arts Review, the magazine of the National Endowment for the Arts; was Washington editor of House and Garden, and later became an editor at large for Vogue. Then she married New Yorker writer Calvin Tompkins and moved to a penthouse on Manhattan's Upper East Side.

But yesterday the forty-something Kazanjian--who grew up privileged in Newport, R.I., the granddaughter of a wealthy Armenian entrepreneur who imported luxury goods for the city's capitalist robber barons--returned to a different town, President Clinton's Washington, to tout her collection of essays, "Dodie Goes Shopping and Other Adventures."

"Yes, my book is politically incorrect, but I don't think I'm writing about status and conspicuous consumption," said Kazanjian, who was guest of honor at a ladies' tea hosted at socialite Buffy Cafritz's Bethesda mansion by Cafritz and author Sylvia Morris, wife of controversial Reagan memoirist Edmund Morris. "I'm really writing about what are the things that make you feel glorious and about finding the real you."

In her collection, published by St. Martin's Press, Kazanjian grapples with such soul-searching subjects as cosmetic surgery, fat thighs, shopping for a fur coat and, in the final chapter, "Some Things I Dream About Having." These include an Issey Miyake scarf, Manolo Blahnik "mules for every occasion," a gold wire-and-crystal necklace by Kazuko and "two weeks off to do the grand tour of Piero della Francesca's frescoes in Arezzo and Sansepolcro, with stops in Perugia, Assisi, Urbino and Monterchi."

We wish her luck--and buon viaggio.

Strutting Out of Town in Full Feather

* "Unless your column is nice to me, you better bring a bloody food-taster, mate," Australian Ambassador Andrew Peacock advised us yesterday when we asked about the goodbye party he's throwing for himself tonight.

Though we firmly believe he was joshing, how could we not be nice? During his three years in Washington representing Down Under, the 59-year-old bachelor-ambassador was wonderful copy--quickly establishing himself as one of this city's more amusing and colorful characters. Not only does he talk salty and exude Crocodile Dundee charm, he hosted fabulous dinners at his gracious Massachusetts Heights residence and managed to squire Shirley MacLaine and Madeleine Albright.

"She's a special friend," Peacock said when we asked if he's going to miss the secretary of state.

But he seemed to be quoting reincarnation theories of Warren Beatty's big sister when he added: "In the end we all die, but then we return in a continuing process of endless adventures."

In December, Peacock will head back to Melbourne for a posh but as-yet-undisclosed job in the private sector. "I love Washington," he said. "And what I don't like about this city, I'll keep to myself."