An irregular feature in which we chronicle the short, happy career of the "Dean" of the Senate -- that is, Minnesota's temporary senator, Dean Barkley.

The latest developments:

The senator is thinking about his legacy. The Post's Mark Leibovich -- who as our resident Barkley watcher observed the senator down two scrambled eggs, two slices of Irish soda bread, bacon, sausage, grilled tomatoes and a large orange juice over breakfast Wednesday at the Phoenix Park Hotel -- reports that the senator is considering writing a Washington memoir.

"I still can't really believe I've done this," Barkley said. "I was deathly afraid that I'd make an idiot of myself."

In addition, the senator has decided to include notes from colleagues among the official papers he intendsto donate, along with his personal senatorial mouse pad, to the Minnesota Historical Society (a change from the University of Minnesota).

Per tradition, the senator also carved his name in his desk on the Senate floor.

The senator also shared his impressions of colleagues, estimating that he actually learned the names of about 60 of them. His favorites were Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, John Warner of Virginia, Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Chris Dodd of Connecticut. "I also loved Snowe from Vermont," he added, meaning Olympia Snowe of Maine. The senator wouldn't permit Leibovich to report the names of his least favorites, but hinted that they are three Republicans from below the Mason-Dixon line.

The embattled Trent Lott of Mississippi (one of Barkley's Terrible Three? We just couldn't say!) "is not as smart as he thinks he is," the senator confided. "He has hair that wouldn't move in a hurricane."

The senator said he will miss many things about the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, including his office fridge stocked with Heinekens and the ability to smoke cigars at his desk. He is still on the job market and weighing several options, and looking forward to enjoying lifetime Senate floor privileges -- the right of all who have been members of The Club. It might be fun to just keep showing up, maybe years after leaving office, he mused. "You think I could get paid for that?"


'Tis the season for "A Christmas Carol," and who better to perform it than the author's great-great grandson, 39-year-old English actor Gerald Charles Dickens.

"I'm descended from Charles's eighth child, who was called Henry Fielding Dickens, and then from him to his son, Gerald my grandfather, and from Gerald to my father to me," said Dickens, the star attraction at Washington's Fairmont Hotel for today's fundraising lunch benefiting the Women's Committee of the National Symphony Orchestra.

Dickens, who every year spends much of November and December touring the United States regaling audiences with the words of his celebrated ancestor, will sandwich today's portrayal of 26 characters among three sumptuous luncheon courses.

"Charles completed his last novel, 'Our Mutual Friend,' in 1865 and he was 58 when he died in 1870, but he's just as relevant today as he was in the 19th century--amazingly so," Gerald Dickens told us. "There are a number of reasons for this, but one is that he was just a rattling good storyteller!"

The dead Dickens--who was himself a popular performer of his works, the Victorian era equivalent of Mick Jagger--made enormous pots of money off his fiction. His progeny lived well, though, as Gerald pointed out, "some of his children found it difficult to live in the shadow."

These days, with all the works in the public domain--everything from "Bleak House" to "Great Expectations"--being sold with not a cent going to the relatives, it's nice to see a Dickens putting his famous DNA to good use.


* Dancing around the facts? CIA Director George Tenet, who picked up a Nixon Center Distinguished Service Award during Wednesday's black-tie dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel, is famously proud of his Greek ancestry. So proud, claimed Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in his welcoming remarks, that Tenet "does that wonderful dance made famous by Anthony Quinn in "Zorba the Greek." I saw him do it once down at a Greek restaurant in Old Town, and he even smashed the plates. Jesus, the guy is good!" Later in the evening, Tenet's introducer, former defense secretary James Schlesinger, reiterated that "George does that marvelous dance from 'Zorba the Greek' where he smashes the plate on the floor." We were understandably eager to squeeze Tenet for the details of this heretofore top-secret talent. Alas, he frowned and told us: "It's not true!"