Rhapsodies in Blue

We've noticed a disturbing trend: Washington political wonks who try to pen steamy encounters. The latest Henry Miller manque is Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who includes a little sexual congress in her novel about a feisty female senator. We dove into Boxer's novel to compare her panting prose with that of other Washington politicos, and rated them on a scale of one to four vibrating cell phones. (Warning: adult content ahead!)

"A Time to Run" by Barbara Boxer, Chronicle Books, 2005: It was as if they'd never been apart. Their bodies remembered and anticipated each nuance of touch and feeling.

Greg ran his hand lightly over the contours of her body and curved his fingers to mold her hip. "We're so good together."

"I know," she said.

Rating: TWO CELL PHONES

"The Apprentice" by I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Thomas Dunne Books, 2001: He stretched to touch her with his fingertips, and as he did she slid one leg over him and kissed his ear. Her breath there was warm and moist and then she licked the inside of his ear. He was startled. He had never been touched like that before. The feeling at first was good, but then it was wet and cold and unpleasant.

Rating: TWO AND A HALF

"Sisters" by Lynne Cheney, Signet, 1981: "You should straighten up your hair before you let your cowhands see you." She had reached up and mussed it further.

"And you should fasten your robe before you let anyone see you." He reached down as if to tie it shut, but slipped his hand inside instead, inside her unbuttoned nightgown too. . . . She was smiling, but she found it difficult to speak. Once more she felt all her blood and breath being pulled downward.

Rating: THREE

"The Hornet's Nest" by Jimmy Carter, Simon & Schuster, 2003: Mavis felt his eyes on her and moved nearer him. He was overwhelmed with a feeling of tenderness, and was also aroused sexually, which his tight trousers made obvious to both of them. Mavis was not naturally shy, and she looked up into his eyes without attempting to conceal her desire.

Rating: ONE

"1945" by Newt Gingrich, Baen Books, 1995 (the unrevised, pre-publication version): Suddenly the pouting sex kitten gave way to Diana the Huntress. She rolled onto him and somehow was sitting athwart his chest, her knees pinning his shoulders. 'Tell me, or I will make you do terrible things,' she hissed." . . .

"Can't it wait just a little while?" he panted, suddenly wanting her very much.

"If you promise faithfully. . . ."

"I promise. Everything!" She was truly an artist.

His next coherent words were, "We're making this new kind of bomb."

Rating: FOUR

Separated at Birth?

The man on the left holds the nation's fate in his hands. The man on the right holds the nation's fate in his hands. The man on the left graduated from Harvard in 1975; the one on the right graduated from Harvard in 1975. Are you getting chills? We are! However, archival evidence (from their college yearbook) reassures us they are likely two different people: The Federal Reserve nominee had a cool biker 'stache; the homeland security secretary did not.

Readers Tell Us

What a week! You all had a lot to share. First, Charles and Camilla -- and all we can say is ouch! Lotta anger out there. Much of the criticism of the Duchess of Cornwall was so sexist, ageist, lookist that we're not going to revisit it. But one Web chatter from Washington articulated her grudge reasonably: "It is the fact that the mistress somehow 'won.' She may be a nice person . . . but I just can't get past that."

After we reported on how Sam Alito's undergraduate thesis had gone missing from the Princeton archives, we asked someone to 'splain this thesis thing to a coupla reg'lar state school folks. A dozen of you dutifully sent detailed explanations of Ivy League curricular requirements, to which we can only respond: We didn't mean it. Sorry! You kids totally break our hearts.

Vince writes:

OUTSTANDING WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You've tied your record in today's column: FIVE!!!!! Count 'em, FIVE!!!!! Exclamation Points. Can't WAIT to see what happens when the Royalty's in town!

Indeed, by Thursday, we'd hit a new benchmark of nine (count 'em: !!!!!!!!!) exclamation points. Or so Vince tells us. Thank God someone's keeping track.

Mike writes: Could you please stop putting illiterate thugs in your column everyday? "Wow . . . the rapper Game!" Come on . . . Supposed educated, intelligent people are perusing through your newspaper in the morning . . .

True. But a lot of them like reading about Donald Trump.

Downtown D.C.: In the short time y'all have been manning (womanning?) the gossip desk, there's already been a greater emphasis on the gossip of the D.C. African American community and on hip-hop and other black-themed gossip. It's really perked the column up! And I'm not even black and couldn't name enough hip-hop artists to fill up the fingers of one hand. But the column feels much more representative of the city as a whole now . . . I guess I should say something like, "Represent, yo!" at this point?

Word! But don't go skimping on the punctuizzle: Represent, yo!!! And keep the feedback coming: reliablesource@washpost.com, or 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Or swing on by our live Web chats, Wednesdays at noon.