QUOTE:

"I categorically deny that Carl smells like cabbage, has ever smelled like cabbage, or that he has any secret plan to adopt cabbage as his personal smell."

-- The Post's Bob Woodward during a live online discussion yesterday, fielding a question about whether his former reporting partner, Carl Bernstein, smells like cabbage, as alleged in the 1999 Watergate movie spoof "Dick."

The Source's Exciting Bid For the Nobel Peace Prize

Venturing where angels should be terrified to tread, dispute resolution expert Craig Coletta yesterday offered to help Suzanne Martin Cooke and Laura Stern Hitchcock make nice. Coletta, coordinator of the Washington-based National Association for Community Mediation, wants to arrange a free session for the battling Bethesda neighbors.

"The idea is to get the two sides together, and a mediator works with them to try and identify where their common understandings are, where they have different understandings and try to identify each side's interests--as opposed to their positions," Coletta told us. "Often it quickly escalates from 'What's our problem with the situation' to 'What's our problem with each other,' and people very quickly demonize each other."

That certainly describes the brouhaha outlined in yesterday's column, in which we reported that the late Jack Kent Cooke's third wife is accusing clinical psychologist Hitchcock of letting the Cooke spaniel Savannah out of the yard, resulting in death-by-automobile. The melee required two visits this week by the Montgomery County cops. When we contacted each combatant yesterday to forward Coletta's offer, Cooke and Hitchcock sounded skeptical but agreed to hear him out. "The first thing that happens in these mediations is a lot of venting," he told us.

No kidding.

From Candidate To Kibitzer

* Former New York congressman Jack Kemp, who was the Republican vice presidential nominee last time around, has signed on as a talking head for the 2000 campaign. Phoning in yesterday from a ski resort in Montana, Kemp told us that CBS News is paying him "modest money" to join New York's former Democratic governor Mario Cuomo as a commentator on "The Early Show," starting Monday.

"I think they're interested in Governor Cuomo and me making around 25 appearances. It's a chance to comment and kibitz. I guess we've been talking about it for a couple of weeks, and Bryant Gumbel's a friend of mine," Kemp said, referring to the star of the ratings-challenged rival of NBC's "Today" show. "Cuomo and I have a unique style that hopefully will be interesting. He's a fascinating individual and CBS is a huge network and besides, I have stock in CBS SportsLine.com." Asked if he and Cuomo will pump up the numbers for the third-place show, Kemp replied: "I didn't really think about ratings."

Kemp added that despite his CBS gig, he's free to endorse a candidate. "I don't know what I will do about an endorsement. But I don't think this precludes an endorsement--nor should it. I'm a Republican. I want to have some influence over the platform and the policies."

THIS JUST IN . . .

* Madonna's spokeswoman yesterday denied a report in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that the pop star snubbed Jennifer Lopez at a New Year's Eve bash at Donatella Versace's Miami Beach home. The paper says Madonna and diva-in-training Gwyneth Paltrow left the table when Lopez crashed the sit-down dinner for 75. In a recent magazine interview, Lopez had slammed Madonna's acting ("Hey, don't spit on my craft!") and coldly dissed Paltrow ("I don't remember anything she was in."). But Madonna publicist Liz Rosenberg told us: "There was no catfight at the Versace mansion. Madonna has absolutely nothing against Jennifer. They were both at the party, but there was no negative ex- change between them, not at all." No com- ment from Lopez's people.

* We asked our old friend George Stephanopoulos if he's girding himself for his guest shot on David Letterman tonight. "I guess I better now," the Clinton operative turned ABC correspondent replied with a laugh. But when we inquired if he's really dating Broadway babe Bebe Neuwirth, as the tabloids have reported, we were greeted with stony silence. "I don't comment about my personal life and I'm not going to start now," he said.

* The Associated Press reports that Monica Lewinsky's new commercials for the Jenny Craig weight-loss centers have sparked a minor revolt among several Midwestern franchises, which are refusing to run the ads.