Washington may gain a political humor and gossip magazine by the end of year if Gary Wasserman, a writer and political scientist who used to teach at Columbia University, and Zaki Ergas, a Berkeley-based economist, have their way. Wasserman and Ergas want to fashion the monthly magazine, to be called The Mole, after London's successful but wicked Private Eye. An attempt last year by Nicholas von Hoffman and cartoonist Garry Trudeau to start a similar magazine faltered for lack of money . . . An idea whose time had not yet come was Bill Regardie's plan to publish a twice- yearly guide to Washington restaurants. The project was called off owing to lack of interest by potential advertisers.

New to the Washington bureau of The New York Times is Leslie Maitland to cover the Justice Department. Jo Thomas returns to New York as assistant national editor .. . Arriving from 815 Gannett newspapers around the country are reporters temporarily assigned to the chain's big September gamble, the national newspaper st impressive private collection of guns if the city and one of its premier absentee entrepreneurs can reach an agreement.

Alexandria's city manager, Douglas Harmon, and his staff are exploring ways to open a small arms museum featuring a collection owned by Samual Cummings, whose Alexandria-based firm, Interarms, is the world's largest private dealer in weapons. Although Cummings lives in Monte Carlo, he started his company in Alexandria and the seven buildings Interarms owns on 200,000 square feet of land near Alexandria's waterfront make it one of the city's major downtown landowners.

"The city has suggested an existing building can be modified, and we're agreeable to that," says Cummings, whose principal concern is security. "But they've also suggested they might have one or more historical buildings they might make available, including the mansion used during the Bicentennial year on the corner of Prince and Washington streets."

"It's a sensitive issue," says Alexandria archeologist Pam Cressy about the plan, which she says has not been embraced with universal enthusiasm by city council members. "One of the concerns is how much can the city afford to spend on history and how much money can you put into someone's private collection when the collection is not deeded over to the city. But the idea is the history of the Alexandria waterfront, at least in the 20th century, is nothing but weapons."

During World War II, a torpedo factory operated there and during both world wars, seaplanes were manufactured in Alexandria. And Alexandria is home to one of two of Interarms' large depots--the other is in Manchester, England.

Cummings describes his collection as "probably the best general small arms collection covering the period of the 18th, 19th and 20th century--there are better specialized collections, such as the Smithsonian's historical personal collection, but I think we have the best cross section." Over the last year, Cummings has shipped about 1,000 pieces from his Manchester depot to Alexandria where Interarms planned to display them next year to mark the company's 30th anniversary.

But conversations with city manager Harmon, who is a serious collector of World War I aircraft memorabilia, led to the idea of a permanent public display. Now Cummings is shipping an additional 500 pieces from England and 100 from his summer chalet in the Swiss Alps. Insured in England for about $2 million, the collection includes pistols, a sword and carbine captured from Napoleon at Waterloo, a sporting rifle that belonged to King William IV of England, and a pair of pistols once owned by George III, king of England during the American Revolution.

"We told the city that if the George III pistols were put on display," wisecracks Cummings, "they'd have to be pointed toward Mount Vernon."

MEDIA FAST TRACK: Washington may gain a political humor and gossip magazine by the end of year if Gary Wasserman, a writer and political scientist who used to teach at Columbia University, and Zaki Ergas, a Berkeley-based economist, have their way. Wasserman and Ergas want to fashion the monthly magazine, to be called The Mole, after London's successful but wicked Private Eye. An attempt last year by Nicholas von Hoffman and cartoonist Garry Trudeau to start a similar magazine faltered for lack of money . . . An idea whose time had not yet come was Bill Regardie's plan to publish a twice- yearly guide to Washington restaurants. The project was called off owing to lack of interest by potential advertisers.

New to the Washington bureau of The New York Times is Leslie Maitland to cover the Justice Department. Jo Thomas returns to New York as assistant national editor .. . Arriving from 815 Gannett newspapers around the country are reporters temporarily assigned to the chaiGUN MUSEUM WITH INTERARMS

Alexandria may become home to the world's mocalled USA Today. The journalists receive three months' free lodging in Rosslyn while Gannett waits to see if the paper is viable. If so, management and scribes can decide whether to make the transfers permanent. A perk for employees brought in from out-of-town: a free trip back home every month for R&R.

There are 2,2000 synonyms for the word "drunk," according to Washington author Paul Dickson in his new book from Delacorte Press called Words. Author of, among other books, The Official Rules, Dickson has collected thousands of little-known words that make amusing browsing and make those "increase your word power" exercises seem tame. Dickson is working with Joe Goulden on another off-beat volume due out early next year titled There Are Alligators in Our Sewers and Other American Credos.