Chelsea's Love Interest

Say what you will about the Clintons, but they sure have a thing for White House interns. First daughter Chelsea Clinton is dating one: Stanford University classmate Jeremy Kane, who is volunteering in the speechwriting shop collating faxes, answering phones (but not our call), doing research and--for all we know (his colleagues wouldn't comment)-- contributing applause lines to presidential orations.

Yesterday we confirmed the New York Daily News's scoop that Kane, a 21-year-old senior, and Clinton, 20, are sweet on each other, with Kane accompanying the first family to the Democratic convention in Los Angeles, where he stayed as their guest at the Century Plaza Hotel, and helping advance President Clinton's trip last month to Okinawa, where Chelsea was also on hand.

"They've been dating for two years," a Stanford source told us yesterday. "I'm really surprised it hasn't gotten out until now. It's definitely very serious."

Kane was closemouthed to the New York tabloid--"I don't know where you're getting your information from--thanks for the phone call"--and his mother, Carol, was equally mum when we reached her at home in Los Gatos, Calif., a well-to-do community just south of Stanford. "Thank you for your interest, but I have no interest in participating," she told us before hanging up. The first lady's communications director, Lissa Muscatine, insisted that "we don't comment on Chelsea's activities," despite the first daughter's rising profile accompanying mom Hillary Rodham Clinton in the New York Senate campaign and escorting Dad to official White House functions--activities for which she's taking the fall semester off.

Like a previous college boyfriend, Matthew Pierce, Kane is a competitive swimmer, having raced for the top-ranked Stanford team during his freshman and sophomore years. According to the undergraduate swimming media guide, Kane finished sixth in the 1,650-yard freestyle at the 1998 NCAA Championships and placed fifth in the 1,500-meter freestyle at the 1996 Olympic trials. The son of Presbyterian minister Jeff Kane, he's a classics major who managed a 3.19 grade-point average in 1999.

For our part, we hereby declare Miss Clinton's vaunted "zone of privacy" inoperative. Let the Chelsea chase begin.

QUOTE:

"The French will be very lucky to have a man of his stature--and we'll welcome him back to America in 2009."

-- Bush campaign spokesman Ari Fleischer, responding to major-league movie director Robert Altman's vow--made to reporters covering this week's American Film Festival in Deauville--that if George W. Bush wins the White House, Altman will move to France.

THIS JUST IN . . .

* The word from Air Force One is that President Clinton has a favorite new card game. A longtime passionate hearts player, he's simply mad about Oh Hell, reports The Post's Ellen Nakashima. Clinton learned the game, a variation on hearts that first appeared in New York parlors during the Great Depression, from none other than Steven Spielberg two summers ago in the Hamptons, and was seen playing it eagerly on last month's Okinawa trip.

* Flashy new Redskins cornerback Deion Sanders never has a down day, right? Wrong. According to the upcoming issue of Esquire magazine, Sanders was so depressed by his messy divorce three years ago, when he was playing baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, that he seriously considered suicide. But then he found religion. "If there's a heaven, there's got to be a hell, too," he tells the mag. "Think on that."

* Speaking of a White House underling romancing presidential progeny, best-selling Chevy Chase novelist Brad Meltzer--a 30-year-old Columbia Law School alum whose commercial successes, "The Tenth Justice" and "Dead Even," have made it unnecessary for him to practice law--tells us that art is imitating life in his latest political potboiler. Warner Books, which is publishing Meltzer's "The First Counsel" in time for the next inauguration, has been sending out reviewer's copies in brown wrapping paper blazoned with the come-on "WANT TO DATE THE PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER?" Meltzer says he got pointers on authenticity from a real-life unidentified presidential daughter for his new novel, which includes a steamy scene between a junior White House staffer and the first daughter --"not Chelsea Clinton"--on the White House roof.