Twice the Man

"I'm a 13-year-old boy starting life all over again," Kirk Douglas told us yesterday from Los Angeles, a day after he celebrated his 83rd birthday by having a second bar mitzvah. Jewish tradition says a man's life begins again at 70; Douglas did the math and figured he was eligible for another bar mitzvah.

The legendary actor, whose new film, "Diamonds," opened yesterday, repeated the ritual at Westwood's Sinai Temple before a crowd of 150--including his wife of 45 years, Anne; his sons Michael, Joel, Peter and Eric; and celebs like Catherine Zeta-Jones (Michael's gal), Larry King and Ernest Borgnine.

"At my first bar mitzvah, I said, 'Today I am a man,' " Douglas said. "But you're not a man. It's more wishful thinking. But after all that I've gone through, now I'm a man."

Douglas, who had a stroke in 1996, said his spiritual awakening came late in life. "When I had my stroke, I felt like God was telling me something," he said, his speech slightly slurred as a result of the affliction. "So I started studying the Bible. It really has helped me a lot. I realized what a lucky guy I am."

At his second bar mitzvah, Douglas read in Hebrew from the Torah about Jacob wrestling with the angel. He also gave a speech (in English), during which he confessed that as a kid he wasn't much interested in going to synagogue, although he did always fast on Yom Kippur.

In "Diamonds"--his first film since his stroke--Douglas stars as a former boxing champ who wants to fulfill one last wish before his children put him in a home for the elderly. Douglas also has a new children's book, "Young Heroes of the Bible."

Spotted Newt

Perhaps the days of black Town Cars and police escorts are over for Newt Gingrich. According to The Post's Gabriel Escobar, the former House speaker boarded the Metro at the Capitol South station just after 9 a.m. Thursday, moved to the front of the car and stood out of view in an alcove formed by the booths where the conductors sit.

Gingrich, dressed in the usual Washington suit and tie, carried a thin folder, a legal pad and a tome titled "Cyber Rules." He studiously read the book and marked it up with a black felt-tip marker.

When Gingrich stepped from the shadows just before the McPherson Square stop, a woman in a pink top, gray slacks and sneakers jumped from her seat. "Are you someone famous?" she asked him. "Newt Gingrich," he replied, offering a hearty handshake. The woman then ran back to her seat, fished a camera out of her bulging backpack and handed it to a total stranger, who snapped a shot. "You were a great speaker!" she said.

A beaming Gingrich gave her his business card, complete with patriotic white background and red-and-blue lettering. But it turns out the woman, who would not give her name, is a lifelong Democrat who just moved here from California. She said she was complimenting Gingrich's oratorical skills, not his leadership. Then she offered another excuse: "I wasn't here when he was crazy. Were you?"

End Notes

Political odd couple James Carville and Mary Matalin are opening an American-cuisine restaurant in April at 24th and M streets NW. They're planning to call it "emersons," after their youngest daughter. Their partners are New York restaurateur Henry Amoroso and Carville's consulting-biz associate Todd DeLorenzo . . . Juicy e-mail alert! An unnamed aide in the Washington office of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) meant to e-mail a love letter to her boyfriend but accidentally mass e-mailed it to the senator's constituents. The Birmingham News says Sessions, who's recovering from prostate cancer surgery, is "dismayed" . . . Mexican rock star Carlos Santana told reporters this week that the Virgin of Guadalupe--the patron saint of Mexico--once spoke to him while he was praying. Santana didn't say exactly when their chat occurred.