A W Magazine Scoop: Civility Is Dead!

We're all doomed: Shrill, partisan politicking is laying waste to the Washington social scene, argues a piece in the upcoming W magazine, which surveys longtime socialites and "smart set" members on just how bad it has become as the election nears. "Whoever wins, the bitterness is such that [Mayor] Tony Williams might want to think about putting Paxil in the water," Dick Carlson, a political appointee in the Reagan and Bush I administrations (and father of CNN's Tucker Carlson), tells the mag. "Otherwise, the living rooms of Georgetown could turn into mosh pits. With all this campaign hyperbole and the name-calling I'm afraid it's going to make life difficult."

Nonpartisan social doyenne Oatsie Charles informs W scribe Susan Watters: "As far as I'm concerned, the Washington I knew is over." (Then again, maybe it was just a shimmering Georgetown chimera to begin with: Camelot, we hardly knew ye.)

Denizens of the Bush White House, including Chief of Staff Andy Card, are faulted for not getting out much. But just yesterday political adviser Karl Rove left his lair and was spotted at lunch at the Oval Room, feeding his media base: He dined with Fox News's Brit Hume, National Review's Washington editor, Kate O'Beirne, and columnists Charles Krauthammer and George Will. Our witness noticed no Democrats at the table, but who needs indigestion?

In the W article, Christopher Hitchens -- ever the contrarian -- expresses no concern about the partisan climate. He admits to unleashing a pungent Cheneyism in a confrontation with Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) backstage at CNN. "Frankly," Hitch tells the magazine, "I think much too high a value is placed upon civility."

Youth Vote Ploy: Register and Get Free Stuff!

* Voting, voting, voting. That's all we hear about these days -- yes, we understand why -- especially when it comes to the younger crowd. Anything to get 'em out to the booths in November. And now MustVote.com is practically bribing kids to register in the 20 states where deadlines have not expired, which includes biggies such as California and New York. The gist is: Register to vote and download free, unreleased tunes in return. Participants include Pearl Jam, Radiohead, the Von Bondies, Talib Kweli and Lisa Loeb (whom you surely remember from her mid-'90s hit "Stay").

"It's basically a bribe," the Bethesda-born Loeb says. "But a bribe in a kind way. . . . You have to start somewhere. . . . If we can get people interested and to act, especially at a young age, that's really important." The campaign is nonpartisan, but the singer tells us from her home in Los Angeles: "Yeah, I'm one of those Democratic people, like a lot of other musicians."

If the Napster generation tilts toward John Kerry, then there was good news for his camp yesterday from Rock the Vote, which announced that it has surpassed its goal of registering a million new voters this year, thanks in part to kids furiously downloading registration forms at the rate of 40,000 a day in the past week. The nonpartisan music-politico alliance, the granddaddy of them all at age 14, is bringing the Dixie Chicks to Washington Saturday night for a fundraiser at a private Georgetown home. Sorry, but even for the top price of a $5,000 ticket, you won't hear the trio play. We're told they're just going to mingle and maybe talk about "Chicks Vote!" -- their partner initiative with Rock the Vote.


* It was all business yesterday afternoon for baseball fans Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Mickey Kantor, former Clinton secretary of commerce and U.S. trade representative, who used to live in California: The two met up at Teatro Goldoni downtown -- bar stools reserved in advance -- and hunkered down to watch the St. Louis Cardinals stomp the Los Angeles Dodgers.

* Actor and 1992 University of Virginia grad Sean Patrick Thomas ("Barbershop," "Save the Last Dance," "Cruel Intentions") wants to help others get to U-Va. He has become the celeb face (voice, too) of the school's financial aid program, in which he participated during his college years.

* Luckily for Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino despises using the "555" fake phone numbers typically used on TV and in movies. Scott Patterson, who plays the hunky "Luke" on the WB show, gave out "his" cell phone number (860-294-1986) on air last week. In real life the number connected to a message asking for donations to build a new children's hospital, Patterson's choice of charities.

The Annals of Puffery

An Occasional Verbatim Press Release

* "As former federal prisoner #65078-061 and a lawyer, I have some advice for Martha Stewart: Forget you are educated, creative and used to the finer things in life. (Picture of prisoner uniforms available.) . . . The Bureau of Prisons does not serve cupcakes."

-- Karen S. Bond, a Columbus, Ohio, ex-con offering to be a media source.

The Daily Blowhard

"I mean, it is simply a fact that he has married two heiresses, his specialty in life. I mean, if he has an economic plan, I think the one I'd like to hear about is how to snooker millionairesses into marrying me and living off them."

-- Ann Coulter, yesterday on "Good Morning America," referring to John Kerry.

With Anne Schroeder