When Push Comes To Shovel

Those special license plates handed out to privileged members of Congress are decidedly double-edged.

Yesterday American University law student Nadia Abadir e-mailed us about a late-model Mercedes-Benz -- bearing the Texas license plate "SENATE 1A" -- that was allegedly parked in a space that Abadir and her roommates had spent 3 1/2 back-breaking hours shoveling out of the heavy snow in front of their Northwest Washington group house.

"We never had a problem with parking until Saturday night," Abadir wrote. "Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who lives around the corner and two doors down, decided to take not even just one but TWO of our spaces. She so kindly parked 10 feet back from the car in front of her, preventing a car from fitting behind her without angling into the street. . . . So how does one retaliate against a senator? After some consensus, we decided that you were our only hope!"

A quick check revealed that the C230 Kompressor coupe belongs not to Hutchison, who lives on Capitol Hill, nor to Texas's new Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who doesn't have wheels in Washington, nor even to former senator Phil Gramm's wife, Wendy, who previously used the special tags.

It turns out that Hutchison gave the plates to her chief of staff, Ruth Cymber, who e-mailed us that her complaining neighbors "can 'retaliate' against the right person, for starters. It's my car, not Sen. Hutchison's. It's me who lives in the neighborhood, and I've lived there for 20 years. When I got home Saturday night and found the space in front of my house -- the one I had dug out -- occupied, I hunted until I found a place to park around the corner. It isn't in front of [her] house, I didn't take up two spaces and the sun had done more work on the street than [she did]. I am sorry that my little compact infringed on [her] three-car convention, but neither of us owns the street."

Cymber vacated the disputed space yesterday morning.

Eat Your Heart Out, Hans Blix!

* Never let it be said that Michael Eisner isn't more agreeable than Saddam Hussein when it comes to visiting inspectors.

The Post's Annie Gowen reports that on Feb. 14 in Orlando, representatives of the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms led a delegation of staffers for Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) on a half-day tour of the explosives bunker at Disney World.

It turns out that the Walt Disney Co., which shoots off spectacular fireworks displays every night of the week at its Epcot and Magic Kingdom theme parks in Florida, is one of the biggest private owners of explosives in the world.

"It was a trip to give these staffers the experience of seeing what an explosive bunker looks like and to tour one of the largest bunkers around," ATF legislative honcho Chuck Higman told us yesterday. "The Disney complex gets millions of visitors a year, and we wanted the staff people to see a well-run facility under ATF jurisdiction. And the Disney folks do a terrific job."

Disney spokesman Bill Warren pointed out that the bunker is located well outside the theme parks on the 30,000-acre facility, and spokespeople for the various congressional offices said their staffers were in Orlando to attend the "Shot Show," the nation's largest annual firearms exhibition, not to avail themselves of any of Disney's amusement opportunities.

So a good time was not -- repeat, not -- had by anyone.

THIS JUST IN...

* Native New Yorker Leonard Garment, who arrived in Washington in 1968 when his law partner Richard Nixon was preparing to assume the presidency, is returning to his upstream spawning ground. The 77-year-old former White House adviser and his wife, former Wall Street Journal pundit Suzy Garment, have sold their Parc Somerset condo and yesterday were girding for a grilling by a co-op board in Manhattan. "It's a loft in the Flatiron District, near a massage parlor and a strip club, and there's a first-rate Italian restaurant across the street, so I'll have my evenings all planned out," Garment joked. Suzy will practice tax law and Leonard, who once played sax in a jazz band with clarinetist Alan Greenspan, plans to concentrate on raising money to establish a national jazz museum in Harlem.

* The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, and even some non-conspirators, showed up in force Sunday afternoon to help Bill Clinton nemesis Ken Starr celebrate his new book "First Among Equals," a history of the Supreme Court. Among the 270 guests at Bobbie and Bill Kilberg's McLean house were Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. As a long line of admirers waited to have their books signed ("Welcome to a totally bipartisan, nonpartisan, neighborly gathering in a great community!" Starr inscribed ours), Justice Kennedy told The Post's Anne Schroeder: "He's a fine, superb attorney. . . . He is a delight." Wife Mary Kennedy added: "He is a Renaissance man, which is probably why he's a good lawyer." No one wanted to talk about any impending war with Iraq. "I definitely have my views on that, but I share those with others," Kennedy dodged.