Jessica Lynch's Four-Year Hitch

Former Iraq POW Jessica Lynch started college yesterday at West Virginia University alongside 4,600 wet-behind-the-ears freshmen. "I have to say I am a little nervous," the 22-year-old admitted in an interview published in the Aug. 15 Newsweek. "The freshmen that I'll be with were eighth-graders when I graduated from high school."

Lynch, who is living in off-campus housing, is working on a teacher-education degree and will start with 12 credit hours, making her a full-time student. "She is looking forward to making this her priority and becoming a teacher," said her publicist.

The former Army supply clerk is attending on a full scholarship from the state and says she "doesn't want any special attention" drawn to her.

Senate and Spouse

Stand by your men? Forget about political stances -- husbands are a titillating topic in the New York Senate race between Democratic incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeanine Pirro, a Republican district attorney in Westchester County.

Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton, had a White House affair with Monica Lewinsky; Pirro's husband, Albert, a disbarred lawyer-lobbyist, went to prison for tax fraud for 11 months a few years ago and had a daughter out of wedlock with a former mistress. They both sound like winners to us.

Muses Republican strategist Nelson Warfield: "The difference between Jeanine Pirro and Hillary Clinton is Jeanine Pirro's husband served time and Hillary's didn't. Generally you like your candidates to talk about convictions, not their husbands' convictions."

While Clinton has already publicly faced her hubby's indiscretions, Pirro is still fielding questions. The DA announced her candidacy Aug. 8 and was immediately besieged with inquiries about her significant other. "This campaign is about me," she said. "There's only one person's name who's going to be on the ballot and that's Jeanine Pirro."

Pirro's husband has declined to talk to the media about the effect he might have on his wife's campaign and remains conspicuously absent from the photos on her Web site, as well as from her biography.

On the other hand, Clinton's online address features her husband in more than half of the site's "Family Photo Album." Bill even has a whole paragraph in her official bio and recently appeared on CNN to talk up his wife.

Saratoga County GOP Chairman Jasper Nolan says he thinks the spousal slip-ups will cancel each other out: "Hillary didn't seem to get hurt by whatever her husband did, so I think they would negate each other, and it would be hopefully, Hillary versus Jeanine."

So . . . does anyone know what their platforms are?

The One That She Wants

The Coast Guard says it is investigating the disappearance of "Grease" star Olivia Newton-John's longtime boyfriend, who never returned from an overnight fishing trip off California seven weeks ago.

Patrick Kim McDermott, a 48-year-old cameraman, left from San Pedro on June 30. A Coast Guard spokesman said McDermott was last seen on the charter vessel and his personal effects were found on the ship.

Although it is being treated as a missing-person case, investigators have no leading theory into what happened and have not developed any meaningful leads, Chief Warrant Officer Scott Epperson said yesterday.

McDermott and Newton-John, 56, have been together for nine years. The singer yesterday released a statement urging anyone with information on her "treasured friend" to contact authorities.

-- Compiled by Korin Miller

from staff and wire reports

Iraq war veteran Jessica Lynch is a freshman at WVU.Hillary and Jeanine (and Bill and Albert): Should be an interesting Senate race in New York.Olivia Newton-John and her missing companion of nine years, Patrick Kim McDermott.