Ben and the Other Jen

They came, they charmed, they conquered, they left. A stealth visit to Washington by Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner -- whose unconfirmed relationship is being dubbed BenGar -- went relatively unnoticed, but about 30 members of Congress lined up to ooh and aah over the superstars Tuesday night at Charlie Palmer Steakhouse. Or maybe it was emcee Billy Bush (Dubya's cousin and "Access Hollywood" anchor) who got their attention? Nah.

Anyway, Reps. Calvin Dooley (D-Calif.) and Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) co-chaired the fundraiser for the Ataxia-Telangiectasia Children's Project, which drew their fellow Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Dave Hobson (R-Ohio), and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), among others. So recalls Suzi Kindregan, area director for the project, which is looking for a cure for the rare genetic disease.

Ben and Jen worked the room of 300 and talked to the children, one of them being the big screeners' good buddy, 16-year-old Joe Kindregan from Springfield, son of Suzi. Ben and Joe met a few years ago and have remained tight ever since. We're told Joe is invited to most of the actor's movie sets -- he met Jen on "Daredevil." (Joe was Jen's date at the LA. premiere of her latest flick, "13 Going on 30.") Sadly, we hear BenGar remained relatively separated throughout the party. Then again, who knows what happened after 9 p.m., when the festivities died down?

Well, Excuuuse Us

It's definitely book season. We know this just by the sheer number of book parties. We've counted at least four in two days. Wednesday night's soiree was for Jonathan Tisch, CEO of Loews Hotels, celebrating his gift to the world, "The Power of We."

It was a steady mix of journos and power players swilling wine, mingling in a private home in Kalorama -- including D.C. types Bob Barnett, Jack Oliver, Hilary Rosen, Mark Ein, Grover Norquist, Debbie Dingell, Dan and Rhoda Glickman, Michael Barone, TV newsers Norah O'Donnell, Major Garrett, Dana Bash and blogger Ana Marie "Wonkette" Cox.

We sidled up to Tisch for a chat and asked if his typical book-signing line was "Stay at Loews!" The chipper gent seemed unamused. With a reproving glance, he said, smiling: "This isn't an advertisement." Oh?

Stone Cold Sober as a Matter of Fact

Sure, Saturday night's all right for fighting, but what about Thursday morning?

Elton John is becoming increasingly testy as the years progress. Gone are the days of charm and bliss. The heva (our term for a male diva) exploded upon arriving in Taipei early yesterday and was greeted by a swarm of photogs and TV crews. John (that would be "Sir" to you people . . . us, too) started screaming obscenities.

"Rude, vile pigs! Do you know what that means? Rude, vile pigs. That's what all of you are." (Sounds like a song, no?)

Then a photog brought up a fairly reasonable point, shouting, "Why don't you get out of Taiwan?"

The superstar's retort: "We'd love to get out of Taiwan if it's full of people like you. Pig! Pig!"

Hey, guys, don't expect an apology anytime soon -- the fed-up celeb says, er, sings it best: Sorry seems to be the hardest word.

Noted . . .

Billy Bob Thornton's 39-year-old girlfriend, Connie Angland, gave birth to a baby girl. Bella is the 49-year-old actor's fourth kiddo and Angland's first. . . . Robert Downey Jr. is back in the news and not even for drug troubles. No, no, the Oscar nominee wants to tackle the music industry. His as-of-yet untitled CD is headed your way Nov. 23. Can we say triple threat?

. . . and Quoted

"Instead of carrying [Britney] into the bedroom, I carried her out of the nightclub."

-- Kevin Federline, proving that chivalry isn't dead while revealing details from the night of his recent "I do's" to Britney Spears, in People mag.

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports

Media critic Elton John in Taipei; and Ben Affleck, half of BenGar.