Ever Consider A Career in Diplomacy?

Despite an outcry among media types, the State Department yesterday offered its full support for controversial press aide Emily J. Miller, who shocked both her boss, Colin Powell, and "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert when she ordered a cameraman to stop filming an interview with Powell that ran a few minutes over schedule Sunday in Jordan.

"I think she's great and she's doing a good job for us," Richard Boucher, State's top spokesman, told us. "Russert went on and on and on. We asked the cameraman to help us cut it off. He did and moved the camera."

After NBC's Jordanian cameraman proceeded to film palm trees instead of Powell, Russert called it "attempted news management gone berserk." He said nothing like it had ever happened in his 13 years as the show's host.

In just six months on the job, Miller, 33, who controls access to Powell, seems to have made more enemies than usual among the reporters who cover the State Department. "Her manner is brusque, abrasive, demeaning," said one, asking to remain anonymous so as not to be frozen out of interviews with Powell. "She's not doing the secretary a service; she's doing him a disservice."

Miller responded: "This is much ado about nothing and overshadows the successful meetings on Mideast peace that the secretary was having. My job was to keep the trains moving so that five interviews could get done."

About six weeks ago, Boucher investigated reporters' complaints about Miller's conduct during a pool-camera shoot. "There were one or two places where she was too aggressive," he acknowledged. "We all make mistakes sometimes."

In 2001 Miller was working as press secretary to then-Majority Whip Tom DeLay when she lashed into Post Magazine writer Peter Perl while he was doing a profile of her boss, screaming: "You lied! . . . You betrayed him! You twisted his words! . . . We don't know you. You don't exist. . . . You are dead to us." A DeLay spokesman told us yesterday, "Tom thinks Emily did a fine job for him."

Alexandra Kerry's 1/125 Second in the Spotlight

When John Kerry's daughter Alexandra walked the red carpet at Cannes Sunday for the premiere of "Kill Bill 2," she looked stunning in a translucent black dress. Perhaps too stunning. She wore no brassiere -- no big deal on the French Riviera -- but when the photos hit the Web yesterday, Kerry's assets came under intense scrutiny worldwide.

"Could somebody buy the woman a bra?" conservative talk-radio queen Laura Ingraham demanded on her show. Britain's Sun tabloid couldn't resist this line: "Film director Alexandra, 30, showed at least two reasons why Americans should vote her dad into the White House in November."

A film publicist on the scene, who asked not to be identified, blamed camera flashes for baring all. "It really was a very appropriate dress and that was an unfortunate result of the flash effect; she looked very classy and very good," he told us. Kerry campaign spokesman Michael Meehan dutifully phoned us with a very unglamorous "no comment."

At the French Embassy in Washington, press attache Nathalie Loiseau examined a photo of Kerry and said, "At least she wears a dress, and you know that, in Cannes, it is not always the case!" Former Washingtonian Karen Fawcett, who has lived in France 17 years and runs the Web site bonjourparis.com, also yawned at the hubbub. "The French would say c'est normale -- it's absolutely normal. No one would look twice. They are much more bothered by war than they are by somebody's breasts."

Kerry, a fellow at the American Film Institute, went to Cannes to show her 15-minute movie, "The Last Full Measure," which happens to be about the impact of war.

The Usual Suspects

An occasional feature revealing the secret lives of oft-quoted experts

Craig Shirley

Occupation: Republican campaign consultant, founder of Americans for a Better Country, and flack for authors including Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and Zell Miller. Writing his own book, "Reagan's Revolution: The Untold Story of the Campaign That Started It All," on Ronald Reagan's 1976 presidential bid.

Born: Syracuse, N.Y., Sept. 24, 1956. Grew up on Norman Avenue.

Marital status: "In neutral corners." (Married with four kids.)

Childhood pets: A black Lab named Hector, a cat named Periwinkle and a de-scented skunk named Pepe le Pew. "He was like a cat, and very playful."

First celebrity crush: Julie Newmar (Catwoman on TV's "Batman").

Nobody knows I: Used to play poker with Bob Woodward many years ago.

Celebrity I most resemble: Dennis Conner, who won the America's Cup several times.

Most notable characteristic: "Arrogant as hell."

In bedroom you'll find: Ken Starr's two-volume referral that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton. "It's on a shelf, out of reach of my children."

I'd love to trade places for a day with: The lotus eater of the South Pacific, King Kamehameha.

If I could sleep with anybody living or dead: "There are thousands! I think Rush Limbaugh said the reason he loved women is that he was a lesbian trapped in a man's body."

Most humbling moment: Yet to come.

Favorite quote: "No good deed ever goes unpunished."

Adult entertainment name (childhood street plus pet names): Norman Hector Periwinkle le Pew.

With Anne Schroeder