Newt's Double Trouble

We hear stories all the time about famous-in-Washington types who think their Beltway status should make them instantly recognizable to airport security screeners. (Just ask Ted "No Fly List" Kennedy.) But here's one you gotta love: Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House-turned-Fox News talking head, was heading for the Delta shuttle at Reagan National last week when a guy from the Transportation Security Administration gave his boarding pass and picture ID the once-over.

"Are you Cheney?" the screener asked, according to our witness.

"No," responded a surprised -- and stone-faced -- Gingrich. "I'm the other guy. But [Vice President] Cheney will be very disappointed when he hears that you asked that question."

True, the veep rarely flies commercial, but you can't be too careful. "Perhaps the screener thought the vice president was traveling under the assumed name of Newt Gingrich," joked fellow traveler and witness A. Mark Neuman, who, like Gingrich, was en route to the GOP convention.

"Of course, when he got to the convention, it was like being around a rock star," Neuman added. Gingrich sat in Cheney's family box during President Bush's Thursday night speech -- but nobody mixed him up there.

SQUIBS

* Talk early, talk often: The Republican National Committee bared its claws yesterday as soon as Kitty Kelley's latest celebrity-slashing bio, "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty," started generating Internet buzz. "New Kelley Book, Same Old Kelley Slime," announced a talking-points e-mail sent by the RNC to radio shows, summarizing 27 largely negative articles about Kelley's work dating to 1978. (Examples: "In 1992, Then-First Lady Barbara Bush Had Kelley's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis And Nancy Reagan Books Removed From Smithsonian First Ladies Exhibit" and "George Will Blasted Kelley As 'Retailer Of Falsehoods' And 'Journalistic Sociopath.' ") "From what we know of it so far, there's nothing to indicate any factual basis for her unsubstantiated claims," Scott Hogenson of RNC Radio Services wrote. He told us yesterday that he has not seen the book, which is due out next week, and said the talking points "are not just for conservatives; they're for broadcasters hither and yon."

* We hear that Marion Barry was the hit of a party for the 30-plus set thrown by Howard University Cancer Center program manager Rosemary Williams on Sunday night at the Bethesda Yacht Club. The 68-year-old politician, thick in the campaign for the Ward 8 D.C. Council seat, wore a straw hat as he charmed the crowd and danced until about 11:30 p.m. Separated from his fourth wife, Cora Masters Barry, since 2002, Barry promised the crowd: "I'm soon to be single and I will be back!"

Judy Collins, Waiting on Her Invite to Sing for Both Sides Now

* With husband Bill Clinton on the mend, Hillary Rodham Clinton will skip picking up an award for supporting the music industry during tonight's "Grammys on the Hill" dinner at the Willard InterContinental Hotel. But Judy Collins, one of the senator's friends and constituents, told us she would personally deliver the trophy to her later in New York. Collins will be singing at the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences event, which also honors Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), and eight-time Grammy winner Natalie Cole.

"I'm going to sing 'Chelsea Morning' as a tribute to the Clintons because they named Chelsea after my recording of that song," Collins told us yesterday. "Even if Hillary's not there, she'll appreciate it." (Also on the bill: Cowboy Junkies.)

Fresh from a Labor Day appearance supporting John Kerry in West Virginia, the 65-year-old folk songstress says of President Bush: "He's let many things slide, but let's not talk politics. Let's just say he hasn't invited me to sing, so perhaps he's missing a great opportunity."

Maybe he just doesn't dig that good, old '60s hippie music.

That's Commander Valenti to You

* Master and commander: France has named Jack Valenti a commander of the Legion of Honor -- a surprise the redoubtable former chief of the Motion Picture Association of America received just a day after his 83rd birthday. Valenti thought he was up for only an officer title, but he vaulted to the top rank with dispensation from President Jacques Chirac.

At a reception Monday in Paris, in the Ministry of Culture's gilded salons, Valenti was moved nearly to tears as he recalled his youth as a bomber pilot in World War II and talked about the long friendship and "shared culture" of France and the United States. Among the well-wishers: U.S Ambassador Howard Leach, Cannes Film Festival President Gilles Jacob and film legends Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Caron. "I was looking through a photo album this weekend and found a picture of me and Jack at the Oscars presenting a Best Actor award," Caron told one attendee. "He was so handsome, with that slick black hair." (Well, he's still a looker -- and now has a slick medal, too.)

With Anne Schroeder