Greenspan's New Economic Model

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan got lucky Wednesday night.

His wife, NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, and event planner Carolyn Peachey were chatting about his pending retirement in January. "You know, he's not going to have a car," Mitchell said. "He hasn't driven for 18 years."

Across the Hyatt Regency ballroom at the Spina Bifida Association fundraiser gleamed the raffle grand prize: a silver 2006 Porsche Boxster. "Come on, Andrea!" Peachey said. "We're going to win this car for Alan!"

The two women made a beeline for the raffle table, where Peachey plucked down her credit card for five $100 tickets; Mitchell promised to send her a check for $250. They wrote Peachey's name on the tickets, then returned to their table and told Greenspan, "You're going to win this car!" Much hilarity ensued.

They won the car.

Don Imus was all over the story yesterday until Mitchell called in to his radio show to explain that as a government servant, Greenspan can't accept anything over $25 -- especially a $50,770 Boxster. "He thought the whole thing was so funny," Mitchell said.

Now the joint winners have to figure out what to do. "We can't cut this car in half," Peachey said. "It's a beautiful car, but I'm not sure it's right for me, and Andrea's not sure it's right for Alan." The women are looking for ways to donate the car or the proceeds from its sale back to the Spina Bifida Association.

We have a better idea: Peachey gets the car every time Greenspan raises the interest rate; his wife drives it when he lowers it.

Idolizing Fantasia -- as an Author

Who says Washington is out of step with the nation? From the 600-plus shrieking fans who mobbed a downtown Barnes & Noble yesterday for a book signing by former American Idol Fantasia (she's dropped her last name, en route to divahood), it was clear this city didn't waste a lot of phone calls on also-rans Diana or Jasmine.

The 21-year-old chanteuse wept when she saw the lines to buy her memoir, "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale," in which she reveals (with the help of a ghostwriter) her ongoing battle with illiteracy.

"Wow," she rasped, wiping away tears. "It's really encouraging."

A year after her catapult to pop stardom, the Carolina-bred single mom exuded the homegirl charm that won her so many 1-877 votes, greeting each autograph hound -- mostly middle-aged women telling her they wish they could have taken their kids out of school for the event -- with a hug or a "hey, boo!" One concession to fame: some of the most expensively furred and feathered mukluk boots this side of Beverly Hills.

Fantasia said she wrote her book after she met others struggling with illiteracy and "decided I'm going to give my testimony."

In recent interviews, she has also made seemingly pointed statements about how, because of her illiteracy, she signed contracts she couldn't understand. Given that 2002 champ Kelly Clarkson's career truly took off only after she escaped the restrictive management contract imposed on all "American Idol" winners, we wondered if Fantasia was hoping to do the same.

"We have our ups and downs," she said of the "Idol" team, "but they've been good to me."

One Hot 'House' Guest

Not sure where "celebrity home decor" fits into the mission of the Smithsonian Institution -- but it sure did pack the house at Natural History! Must have been the presence of Smithsonian Associate magazine October cover boy and guest lecturer John Travolta. Heck, that's why we went.

Travolta and actress-wife Kelly Preston starred on Wednesday's panel, sponsored by Architectural Digest, which put the couple's Florida mega-mansion in its "Hollywood at Home" book; together they narrated a slide show of their rooms (the size of hotel lobbies) and the jet runway in the front yard.

"What if you built a carport, but for a plane, and with a Frank Lloyd Wright feel?" Travolta mused over one slide. If anyone else had said it, we'd want to slug him, but from him it was just so cute!

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

* Mick Jagger and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean at an eclectic Cafe Milano table that included Shakespeare Theatre's Michael Kahn, D.C. Council member Jack Evans, developer Brad Dockser and baseball booster Winston Lord late Wednesday night. Later, Jagger and Lord were spotted at Modern nightclub in Georgetown.

* Former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, posing for photos with a gaggle of twentysomethings Tuesday after emerging from CityZen restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental.

* Former attorney general John Ashcroft getting pulled aside by security for extra screening at Reagan National Airport before boarding the Delta shuttle Wednesday morning. We think he was randomly selected . . .