Lunch With the First Lady

Laura Bush, who has been lunching up a storm in public places lately, was spotted on Thursday in the Georgetown restaurant Paolo's enjoying a meal with Tenia Gikas, the former secretary to the Greek ambassador. Bush had red pepper and feta salad and a pizza, and the two toasted each other with bloody marys. Gikas treated and tipped almost 20 percent.

In recent days, Bush has been spotted lunching at Landini Brothers in Old Town and the National Gallery of Art, where she was forced to leave her credit card behind when she rushed off to her next event and there was a glitch with the machine that reads the magnetic strip. The first lady's press secretary, Noelia Rodriguez, said the card was eventually read and returned.

Young Cornhusker Huckster

New York magazine reports that Sarah Rips, a 16-year-old ad saleswoman from Omaha's Central High School student newspaper, was getting the runaround when she tried to sell an ad to New School University. So she phoned the university president, former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey -- who plunked down $1,000 of his own money to buy three full pages in the Register. "No one was returning her call," Kerrey told the magazine. "I was so impressed, I couldn't say no. . . . As soon as I said yes, she tried to get me to go with the $2,500 package. She's pretty good. Too bad we don't have a business school, because it sounds like that's where she should be going."

Unreported by the magazine: The girl's uncle, Michael Rips, is a close friend of Kerrey's and a fundraiser for the New School. "I didn't know they were related until after the fact," Kerry told The Post. Kerrey helped write the edgy ad copy inviting fellow Nebraskans to matriculate to the New School: "Become the New York intellectual your parents always warned you about," it reads.

Hagel: I Said What?!

Speaking of Nebraska senators, Republican Chuck Hagel -- who has often inveighed against unilateral U.S. action in world affairs -- takes strong issue with yesterday's Reliable Source account that characterized his Thursday speech to the National Council of International Visitors as being critical of President Bush's "unilateralism." Former ambassador Walter Cutler, who introduced Hagel for his off-the-record, off-the-cuff remarks, said: "That was a gross distortion of what he said. . . . I certainly didn't hear any criticisms of the president or the use of the word 'unilateralism.' "

End Notes

Those wags at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe -- who named a coffee-and-milk drink the "Trente Lotte" a couple of months back -- are trying to get some mileage out of the pending war with Iraq. "I-Rock Fish" comes complete with "Israeli couscous," while "Make Amour Not Guerre" is a cheese plate. Then there's "Texas Sneak Attack Burrito" and the "Crabcake Saddam-wich" . . . The Darrell Green Youth Life Foundation was gearing up last night for a retirement roast at the Ritz-Carlton for the 43-year-old Redskin cornerback. Redskins owner Dan Snyder led a team of roasters that included Education Secretary Rod Paige and remarks on video from race-car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., and The Post's Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser . . . A number of country radio stations across the nation are refraining from airing any Dixie Chicks music. The Texas trio, whose lead singer, Natalie Maines, earlier this week criticized President Bush's plans for war in Iraq and further commented that she was ashamed of his Texas roots, is receiving harsh criticism. Fans, calling the statement "unpatriotic," are reportedly dumping the Chicks records and radio stations are not playing their music. Yesterday, Maines apologized; "I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect," she said in a statement . . . And tonight, friends of Citronelle's Michel Richard will help celebrate his 55th birthday at the 10-year-old restaurant in Georgetown. Richard, who recently took the oath of U.S. citizenship, lamented: "I cannot be a French chef. Now I am going to call myself a 'Freedom chef'!"

Compiled from wire and staff reports

by Anne Schroeder

Laura Bush, buying lunch; Bob Kerrey, buying ads.