Another Distinguished Bentleman?

So there we were, chortling over our brilliance for coming up with the name "Benator." We'd heard Virginia Democratic leaders wanted Charlottesville house-hunter Ben Affleck to run for Senate against George Allen.

Benator! How great is that?

Well, suddenly we're hearing from a lot of you readers gleefully informing us that "Benator" was claimed by Nebraska's Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson more than two years ago! (Seems he wanted to dump President Bush's nickname for him: "Nellie.") The not-so-subtle implication was that we're shallow celebrity obsessives who don't read the daily Hotline. So?

To prevent further confusion, we consulted with the senator's staff and crafted a field guide to the two Benators:

Day job: A-list actor

Age: 33, Leo

Discarded Nickname: "Bennifer"

Featured In: National Enquirer

Collects: Hot Actresses

Co-star: J. Lo, "Gigli"

Loves: Boston Red Sox

Honors: Academy Award

Experience: Defended America from

invasion of Japan in "Pearl Harbor"

Best bud: Matt Damon,

"Good Will Hunting"

Day job: Junior senator

Age: 64, Taurus

Discarded Nickname: "Nellie"

Featured In: National Journal

Collects: Clocks

Co-star: "SueCo," aka Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), on Medicaid relief.

Loves: Turkey hunting

Honors: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Enterprise Award

Experience: Defended American

beef from invasion of Japanese beef.

Best bud: Molly,

good dog hunting.

Brad and Jen's Days of Wine and Roses

As we close the book on Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston -- their divorce becomes final today -- let's cast back to a simpler time . . . before the Angelina photos, before the when-will-they-have-kids hand-wringing, before the endless glossy cover stories on "How They Keep the Magic!!!" and even before the 200-guest, 50,000-flower, $1 million Malibu wedding.

It was June 13, 1998. After a month of denying rumors they were dating, Brad and Jen went public at the Tibetan Freedom Concert, canoodling in the VIP balcony of the 9:30 club -- right here in the District. And you read it here first.

You Be the Gossip

* C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb got married last week, much to the delight and amazement of the lifelong bachelor's friends. We wanted to share the happy news, but Lamb, 63, declined to return our calls or give minor details such as . . . oh, the name of his bride. (This from the guy who criticized Washington as a town of control freaks.)

Would you:

a) Respect their privacy, and refuse to pry further?

b) Tell readers that the bride is a longtime girlfriend, Victoria Somethingorother, a grade-school classmate at St. Mary Cathedral in Lafayette, Ind.?

c) Send a toaster?

Readers Tell Us

Arlington asks: Don't you think "Benator" is only interesting if it is at least true? . . . By your journalistic standard, if my friend and I in the Arlington County Democrats have a pie-in-the-sky conversation about Michael Moore for county president, this is equal to your "they are talking about Ben Affleck for Senator" story.

Ooh, already the tips are pouring in! Who's got a number for Michael Moore? Can we get this for Tuesday? . . . Oh . . . wait . . .

Truth be told, if Moore were living in or moving to Arlington, and if we knew you and your friends to be the kind of high-ranking political kingmakers whose secret brainstorming sessions cast light on the potential direction of the party, then darn straight we'd consider it a story. But since there is no such title as "county president" in Arlington, 'fraid we'll have to pass on the Moore news until we hear it from someone, you know, better placed. Sorry!

Alexandria asks: Why do you feel people need to hear about the rumors and downfalls of those people who are "celebrities" and "political" figures? Are we, as a society, really that downtrodden that to pick ourselves up we need to hear about someone else's scandals and misery?

Maybe someone else would like to answer this one?

FOB [Forward Operating Base] Kalsu, Iraq, asks: Wendy Rieger changed her hair?! Darn this war, keeping important news like that from us out here. Here's hoping things are back to normal when I get back in January! P.S. Really glad to see this chat back . . . it makes me smile out here.

The Reliable Source appears Tuesday through Friday and on Sunday; its Web chat is at noon Wednesdays. Got a tip? Send it to