Fast Times With Ted Koppel

We hear Secretary of State Colin Powell was given a good roasting Thursday night by his old pal Ted Koppel -- who mainly ribbed that Henry Kissinger was a far more interesting secretary of state than the one we have now -- during the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign Gala Dinner honoring -- who else? -- Powell.

But you don't live in Washington for nearly 20 years, or become a general, for that matter, without learning how to throw a few punches. (We know Powell has a sense of humor. Remember how he threw on a hard hat and sang "YMCA" in front of various heads of state a few months ago? And he posed with the Cat Fanciers Association cat of the year because it was named Colin Powell, too.) The first barb to fly out of the secretary's mouth was: "Ted had to leave. He's got to do this late-night show that nobody watches."

Powell then regaled the audience of 350 -- including former defense secretary and national security adviser Frank Carlucci, Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), CNN's Wolf Blitzer and various ambassadors -- with one of his fave Koppel stories.

We'll just let Powell do the talking: "Every couple of years, Ted will come by my house on the spur of the moment and we'll sit in the back yard and have a cup of coffee. And he's usually driving one of his hot cars. He always has a fast car of some kind. And so about, oh, four or five years ago, he came by the house and he had this real muscle car, and after we had a cup of coffee and chatted for a while, he says, 'You've got to take it out and drive it, Colin. You've just got to drive this thing. I want you to feel that power.' "

"I said, 'Okay, Ted. You want to go with me?' "

" 'No, you go. I'll just wait right here in front of the house.' "

"And so I go out and up 123 in McLean. I will not tell anyone how fast I was going by the time I hit the CIA turnoff, but it didn't take me long to get there. And I came back around, pulled up in front of my driveway, and felt something go boom. And I got out of the car and the right rear tire was flat. There must have been about two inches of air left in it.

"I said, 'Oh, my gosh, Ted. I'm so sorry. I messed up your car.'

"And he comes back, 'Oh, it's okay, it's okay. I've got to go now.' "

"So I went to the back of the car and I looked at the tire. There was no tread on it. The wires were coming through. This guy had sent me out to speed up and down 123 with this car that had no tires on it. And I said, 'Ted, how much are they paying you at ABC, man? Surely you can do better than this.' "

Noted . . .

In other Thursday night dinner news, we hear mouths were agape at the end of the USO dinner at the Hilton Washington when Wayne Newton brought all the performers back onstage, including the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. One of the cheerleaders' zipper on her "short shorts," our eyewitness says, was, well, unzipped, leaving her completely exposed. . . . The weather graciously held during yesterday's outdoor ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the new, four-story, $25 million building for the FBI's Baltimore field office. That is, until FBI director Robert Mueller got up to speak. (Is that a sign?) As the rain began to fall, Mueller continued his remarks while the crowd patiently sat in folding chairs, sans umbrellas, getting wet. But finally, after a few minutes (as some guests went for cover), the stoical Mueller proved he has sense to step out of the rain, remarking: "I am not unaware there are raindrops falling." We are encouraged by this.

. . . and Quoted

"I know some of you will be stunned, but there are people who love me."

-- Bill O'Reilly, on Thursday's "The Radio Factor," as reported by Media Matters for America.

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports

At Thursday's dinner, Ted Koppel roasted Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had his own embarrassing tales on the news anchor.