'The Body's' Gnarly Beard

It has been two years since former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura left his post as governor of Minnesota, and the 54-year-old has undergone a few changes. Note: They're not pretty.

Ventura appeared on CNBC's "The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch" Thursday sporting a long, dreadlock-like beard that perfectly matched his shaggy head of hair (what's left of it).

Ventura said his new, um, avant-garde look "shows that I support freedom and that no one is pulling my strings."

"Clearly I don't equate that look with freedom," Deutsch said in an interview yesterday, adding that he was not aware of Ventura's metamorphosis until just before the cameras started rolling. "All of the sudden he came on the control and I heard my executive producer say, 'Oh my God . . .' . . . It's very peculiar to see an ex-governor walking around looking like that. He's a guy who really has checked out on a number of levels."

Don't feel bad, Jesse. The look didn't work for John Travolta in "Battlefield Earth" either.

Powerful Hungry

Ever wonder where your campaign donations went?

Bloomberg News offered up this little bonbon yesterday: Members of Congress have racked up average tabs of at least $1,000 in local restaurants within the past 2 1/2 years, PAC and campaign filings show.

At high-end steak joint Sam & Harry's, politicians had an average bill of $1,971 in 80 visits. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) spent $10,500 there one night with his entourage. Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) has spent $50,000 there in 2 1/2 years. That's a lot of beef!

Lawmakers dropped an average of $1,140 in 157 visits to the Caucus Room and $1,303 in 160 trips to Charlie Palmer Steak. The Caucus Room's general manager, Ed D'Alessandro, said about 20 percent of his business comes from members of Congress and added, "Without Congress, we'd have to downsize."

Overall, members of Congress spent $1.5 million from early 2003 through June 2005 at 10 restaurants: Caucus Room ($292,114), Charlie Palmer Steak ($208,492), Sam & Harry's ($157,719), Bistro Bis ($157,029), La Colline ($147,189), Monocle ($143,731), Signatures ($130,598), Capital Grille ($122,167), Oceanaire ($88,806) and the now-closed La Brasserie ($56,982).

Noted . . .

* ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who died of lung cancer in August, left an estate valued at more than $50 million, most of which was willed to his fourth wife and to two children from a previous marriage.

* Paris and Paris are kaput. Paris Hilton has ended her five-month engagement to Greek shipping heir Paris Latsis, according to Us Weekly's Web site. Maybe she'll play nice and return the 24-carat, $5 million diamond engagement ring.

* Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and husband Glenn Baxley have mutually agreed to divorce, her office says.

* Those Paramount Pictures movie trailers you saw on South Eads Street in Crystal City yesterday didn't contain high-profile Hollywood actors. According to a studio rep, they did house the film crew of "Mission: Impossible III," which stars Tom Cruise and "Felicity" star Keri Russell, who are in town to film outside shots for the flick.

* Report card on Jenna Bush, second-grade teacher at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School in Mount Pleasant: Apparently she's good at it. U.S. News & World Report's Paul Bedard says the 23-year-old is "wowing" the 225-student school. Want proof? Last month Bush took her Spanish class to the public library and they were well-behaved. "We were all really impressed," the librarian said. "It made me feel hopeful that even though she's been around all that power, she's a real person."

-- Compiled by Korin Miller

from staff and wire reports

Separated at birth? John Travolta in "Battlefield Earth," left, and Jesse "The Body" Ventura.Beats the rubber-chicken circuit: Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Edward Kennedy have dropped a pretty penny at Sam & Harry's.Divorcing: Rep. Mary Bono and Glenn Baxley, then.