When Youthful Indiscretion Turns Middle-Aged

Wesley Blake Edwards, younger brother of Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, turned himself in to face a 10-year-old DUI charge in Denver yesterday. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $5,000 bail pending trial. A court spokesman told the Associated Press that Edwards, a 39-year-old electrician, was allowed to return to his home in Fuquay-Varina, N.C. As a condition of release, he was ordered not to drink alcohol or drive without a license.

In a statement, Edwards's attorney said his client "wishes he would have handled this matter earlier" but did not explain the decade-long delay.

A spokeswoman for John Edwards referred us yesterday to a statement issued last week following news accounts about the outstanding warrant: "I love my brother very much," the senator said. "He shouldn't have done what he did, and he knows that and is dealing with it."

Wesley Edwards had his license permanently revoked in 1990 after three misdemeanor drunken-driving convictions.

Bring Condiments!

* Heads-up on the Hill: Wearing only lettuce bikinis, Playboy Playmates and PETA activists Lauren Anderson (July 2002) and Kari Kennell (February 1988) will be passing out veggie dogs tomorrow around lunchtime. Their PR stunt is planned to counter the American Meat Institute's own stunt: an invite-only hot-dog lunch soiree celebrating National Hot Dog Month, with ex-pro baseball players and Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Tex.).

Meat spokeswoman Janet Riley told us, "It's so ironic that they're there because they're concerned about exploitation of animals, but they'll readily exploit women to achieve their goals. We're fully dressed and people are dying to eat our products -- we don't have to get half-naked."

A PETA flack fired back: "Kari and Lauren are inviting members of Congress to a fun event that they're hosting as volunteers, which is the opposite of exploitation -- it's using your success to take a stand for compassion."

Our only question: Can we get a piece of lettuce with our hot dog?


* Julian Niccolini, co-owner of the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York, thumbs his nose at Washington eateries in his August column in Details magazine. "They have no taste in Washington. There are no good restaurants there. It's the pits," he declares. (And his column is called Manners, mind you.) Lynne Breaux, executive director of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, retorted to us yesterday: "Obviously Mr. Niccolini has not dined in D.C. for awhile. D.C. has undergone a tremendous renaissance in the past few years, and our restaurants now rival the best that New York has to offer."

* Linda Ronstadt, why don't you come to your senses? Booed last month during her performance at Wolf Trap when she dedicated her encore "Desperado" to Bush-bashing filmmaker Michael Moore, the singer has done it again. Saturday she sparked protests and got booted from the Aladdin hotel-casino in Las Vegas. "It was a very ugly scene," Aladdin President Bill Timmins told the Associated Press. "She praised him and all of a sudden all bedlam broke loose." Whisked off the property, Ronstadt, 58, was not allowed to return to her luxury suite. Before her show, she felt compelled to tell the Las Vegas Review-Journal: "I keep hoping that if I'm annoying enough to them, they won't hire me back." Mission accomplished.

This Date in Gossip

Twenty-one years ago:

Congress censures two members -- Daniel B. Crane, R-Ill., and Gerry E. Studds, D-Mass. -- for having sexual relations with young House pages. Crane, a moralizing family man, admitted he had sex with a 17-year-old female page in 1980. Studds, a liberal who professed his homosexuality to colleagues in an unprecedented floor speech, had sex with a 17-year-old male page in 1973. Studds was reelected the next year, and five times after that, before announcing his retirement in 1995. Crane lost his reelection bid in 1984 and went back to his dental practice.

Color Us Raspberry Red!

* We all scream: Weekend celebrations of National Ice Cream Day were tragically marred when publicists for Dairy Queen somehow got the date of the holiday wrong in last week's Annals of Puffery item. The day is celebrated on the third Sunday in July, as decreed by President Reagan, and never on Saturday. But we'll forgive all those who double-dipped.

With Anne Schroeder