When it comes to Bush v. Bush, it's all over but the sniping.

Late Wednesday night -- after 12 hours of negotiations in their fractious divorce case -- presidential sibling Neil Bush and his wife of 23 years, Sharon Bush, reached what Neil's Houston attorney, Rick Flowers, described as "an amicable, irrevocable mediated settlement agreement."

But Sharon's attorney, David Brown, complained that Neil's "adultery" with Houston mother of three Maria Andrews -- the 40-year-old ex-wife of oilman Robert Andrews and a volunteer in former first lady Barbara Bush's Foundation for Family Literacy -- couldn't be considered under Texas divorce law.

"He acknowledged that his girlfriend was working for his mama," said Brown, adding that the Bush family sided with Neil, not his client. "I want to tell you something: If I was gonna be cheating on my wife, my mama would be having a stern talking-to with me. And the family wouldn't have been behind the woman I was cheating with. . . . That's just outrageous."

Brown declined to characterize his client's reaction to the settlement -- which Flowers described as "fair and generous" and "more" than the $1,000 a month that Sharon claimed Neil, a software entrepreneur, had initially offered. Flowers disputed that figure, and Sharon didn't respond to our detailed message left at her Houston home.

But she apparently still plans to write her memoir of life among the Bushes. Los Angeles publisher Michael Viner, president of New Millennium Entertainment -- which released the audio version of Michael Moore's best-selling anti-Bush screed, "Stupid White Men" -- told us that he and Sharon are ready to sign a six-figure deal for a book tentatively titled "Family First."

"It's not going to be a tell-all book," Viner insisted, adding that "as-told-to" writer Julie McCarron has agreed to work on the project. "Hopefully, it will be a more upscale book."

Divorce attorney Brown said: "What I suspect would sell the best is a story about life in America's current royal family from someone who has been a part of that family for 23 years. . . . I think you tell the bitter with the sweet. If Barbara Bush is sitting in flip-flop sandals chain-smoking on the porch at Kennebunkport -- and I'm not suggesting she did that -- then that's what you write."

When the New York Observer revealed Sharon Bush's literary aspirations Wednesday as the divorce settlement talks were underway, the book -- and how much family dirt it might contain -- were widely seen as her negotiating leverage.

"She has learned to do business Bush-style," said Washington author Kitty Kelley, who is at work on an expose{acute} of President Bush and his family, and recently spent two days in New York with Sharon. "She picked up a lot sitting around the family breakfast table."


* Spinmeister Dale Leibach, ex-officio president of the Washington chapter of the Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf Fan Club, said yesterday that he's "devastated" over reports that the much-televised Iraqi minister of information hanged himself as Baghdad fell to U.S. troops last week. "In a time of conflict and international tension, Information Minister Sahhaf provided badly needed moments of levity," Leibach eulogized. "He became larger than life. . . . On behalf of the entire public relations community, let me say Mohammed will be missed. Public relations 'professionals' will long remember his contributions to this noblest of crafts. Meanwhile, the Syrian information minister is going to have some big shoes to fill."

* Maybe there's a thaw in the recent ice-cold relations between President Bush and President Jacques Chirac of France. When the tension was at its height over hostilities in Iraq, the breakfast menu on Air Force One offered "freedom toast," not French toast, and officials avoided all things Gallic. But White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer was spotted Tuesday night having a quiet dinner with wife Becky Davis in the patio of La Brasserie near their Capitol Hill townhouse. Fleischer didn't return our call.

* That wasn't really right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham joking about invading France, on White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card's Wednesday night on-line chat. Someone identified as "Laura Ingraham, from D.C." wrote: "Do you have plans to invade France next?" Card apparently thought it was she. "Laura -- Good to read your words," he typed back. "Good job at the [support-the-troops] rally last weekend. Virginia wine is fine with me." Yesterday Ingraham e-mailed us: "Very amusing -- but it wasn't I . . . undoubtedly some prankster. . . . If I had a question for Andy I'd pick up the phone!"