Barr Bares All, But Not for Playboy

Leave it to former congressman Bob Barr, one of Bill Clinton's fiercest adversaries, to throw a book party on the sixth anniversary of the former president's grand jury testimony during the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal. But the tie-in seemed natural: Barr's 246-page screed is titled "The Meaning of Is," reflecting Clinton's famed parsing of the word.

Barr, a House impeachment manager and noted marriage moralist -- who has been married three times, but who's counting? -- stunned a small crowd of conservative fans at Radio America studios in Washington on Tuesday night when he announced another new achievement: "My picture appears in the latest issue of Playboy."


He's on Page 52. "But lest the New Jersey governor [Jim McGreevey] get too excited, it's a very, very small picture," Barr joshed. And, alas, he's fully clothed.

Barr's mug appears in a list of "four U.S. attorneys who found greater glory": Barr, Rudy Giuliani, Thomas Dewey and Franklin Pierce. (The list accompanies a Playboy article on federal prosecutor Mary Beth Buchanan, who helped send comedian Tommy Chong to prison for selling bongs.)

Barr happily gave away signed copies of his book and noted, "It's considerably shorter than Bill Clinton's book. . . . We didn't feel the need to embellish with 700 pages of nonsense." Instead, Barr says he lays bare the "deep-seated, systemic corruption" of the Clinton administration while avoiding a rehash of the impeachment's naughty bits.

Darn. And in the pictures, everybody's wearing pants -- even Mr. Clinton, who, for the record, turns 58 today and is still married.

Take a Bite Out of Terror!

* As part of a new "Ready for Kids" campaign, the Department of Homeland Security wants America's children to help name a canine cartoon mascot. Officials have decreed that this dogged protector of the nation will be an "American shepherd," a breed that apparently doesn't exist, but no matter.

"The dog's a cartoon so we feel it can be any kind of dog the kids want to make it," department spokeswoman Susan Neely told us this week. "Our original sketch was of a proud, dignified dog and the kids liked him. It was an American shepherd and some dog lovers said, 'There is no American shepherd,' but there can be if it's a cartoon."

Nothing against German, Belgian or Australian shepherds, of course. Indeed, this has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the power of mascots to educate. "I don't know what kind of bear Smokey Bear is or what kind of dog McGruff is," Neely noted. (FYI: Smokey, 60, was inspired by the rescue of a real black bear cub and McGruff, 25, is based on a bloodhound.)

The name-the-mascot contest officially commences next month, but why should elementary school kids have all the fun? To inaugurate the dog days of August, the Reliable Source hereby launches its own Homeland Security mascot contest.

Let's rule out the obvious: Snoopy. Goofy. Triumph. Brain. McReady. The waggish may propose names like Jumpy, Cipro, Anthrax, Wm. D'Struction, Saddam or Osama -- but please, folks, this is serious. For winners we have bottles of W Ketchup, the Republican alternative to Heinz. Perfect for slathering on burgers -- or Alpo. Send mascot names, photos or sketches to: America needs you, and we've got a column to fill.

Overt Operations

* Robert Greenwald's documentary "Uncovered: The War on Iraq" has been around since last year on DVD, but an updated version arrives in town tomorrow featuring a huge ensemble of faces you don't usually see in a movie: some 20 intelligence, military and foreign policy experts. There's David Kay, who led the administration's recent fruitless search for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, former Army secretary Thomas White and ex-CIA head Stansfield Turner.

The film came about because Ray McGovern, a CIA analyst for 27 years and a longtime anti-poverty worker in Adams Morgan, urged his many acquaintances in the spook community to sit for interviews after Greenwald contacted him last summer. "He was incredibly helpful from the beginning," the veteran Los Angeles filmmaker told us. "He is one of the gifts to mankind."

The Bush administration might differ, given the movie's criticism of the president's rationales for war, but McGovern says the documentary is no "Fahrenheit 9/11," which he considers a polemic. "It's much more credible and serious," he said. "People who haven't made their minds up would be more educated by what we've put together."

Bush officials curious about Michael Moore's movie were either too outraged to see it or didn't want to give him any bucks. But maybe a few will sneak into this one -- if only to see their neighbors on the big screen.


* Essie Mae Washington-Williams, who spent decades concealing her identity as the biracial daughter of the late senator Strom Thurmond, has decided to put her face on coins sold by the Confederate States Mint in South Carolina. A portion of proceeds from sales of the commemorative coins -- $575 for gold, $30 for silver, $20 for bronze -- will be contributed to scholarships, her attorney, Frank Wheaton, said in a statement yesterday. Washington-Williams, 78, previously announced plans to explore her heritage by applying for membership in the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a group for descendants of soldiers who fought for the South in the Civil War. Her memoir, "Dear Senator," is to be published in January.

With Anne Schroeder