Hurry, Hurry, Hurry. It's Paris in the springtime. And that means the Paris Air Show, the breathtaking display of some of the niftiest military and commercial hardware in, or soon to be in, the skies today. The aerial demos are not to be missed. Nor, for that matter, are the hospitality suites laden with champagne, caviar and other goodies.

Best of all, free trips may still be available. Call Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), a member of the Appropriations and intelligence committees. He's leading the seven-member House delegation heading over this weekend for four or five days to see the show. He's taking Reps. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.), Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), Gary A. Condit (D-Calif.), Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) and David L. Hobson (R-Ohio) on a military jet. All but Calvert are taking spouses to help them watch and to make sure they don't miss anything. And just to be doubly sure, no fewer than eight staff members will help observe.

Or check with Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) and Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), who are going, with spouses, on behalf of the world's greatest deliberative body.

In Alabama, Wooden Is Something to Stand By

And now, former Alabama Democratic senator Howell Heflin's interesting defense of Vice President Gore against charges that Gore is a stiff.

"The elitist media has referred to him as wooden," Heflin said at a news conference Tuesday at the Mayflower Hotel, held by a dozen former senators endorsing Gore. "Wooden to me is a very proud, descriptive term. Wooden in my state is seen as being solid, being sturdy and being representative of a builder."

And former senator Mike Gravel (D) of Alaska said "wooden" is just another word for "boring." But since "the substance of government is boring," he said, such a person could be "a competent person who can properly govern. Al Gore is extremely competent."

Hmmmm. . . .

Then Heflin headed outside the Mayflower on Connecticut Avenue to stand in the sweltering heat with Gore legislative affairs chief Kay Casstevens and her deputy David Thomas, sporting Gore buttons and carrying campaign lawn signs.

And who should come down the street but GOP presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole.

"Aren't we all suffering under the heat?" said Dole, looking cool as a cucumber.

"You look great," marveled Casstevens.

Well, no one will say Dole can't take the heat.

Deadline Looms . . .

Midnight, tonight, is the deadline for entries to the First Annual Loop Who Should Be Slobo's Lawyer and Why Contest. Send your pick and explain why to: In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or via e-mail to loop@washpost.com. Please include day and evening telephone numbers.

CANCELED, One Ticket to Argentina

The nomination of New York businessman and major contributor Hassan Nemazzee to be ambassador to Argentina is still at the Senate, but not for long. The White House is some day going to pull the plug on this one--but not before awarding Nemazzee the "Tommy Thompson It's Over but I Can't Let Go Award."

The name most often heard for the long-empty Buenos Aires mansion (comes with free tango lessons) is former Connecticut representative Toby Moffett (D), who lost a 1982 Senate primary and has been a Washington political consultant in recent years.

Private Citizen, Private Aid

Outgoing Agency for International Development Administrator J. Brian Atwood, wrapping up 35 years in Washington, is heading back home to Massachusetts next month to join the Boston-based Citizens Energy Corp. founded by former representative Joseph P. Kennedy II. There, he will head a new, private-sector AID, helping companies overseas that are required to or want to invest in programs in the countries in which they operate.

Atwood, an assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration, president of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and head of AID for the last six years, recently withdrew his bid for an ambassadorship to Brazil in the face of opposition from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.).

Resuming an Air Force Career?

Word is Carol A. DiBattiste, a career Air Force officer who retired in 1991 as a major and has been a federal prosecutor in Florida, a Justice Department official and Navy deputy general counsel, is in line to be undersecretary of the Air Force.

Shalala Misses Mugger's Plea

Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala wasn't needed in D.C. Superior Court yesterday in the trial of Tawana Clark, one of the three people who tried to rob her in March. Just before the trial began, Clark copped a plea to two counts of attempted robbery.

A prosecutor said Clark was so high on drugs and alcohol during the attempted robbery that she didn't know where she was. Now she's looking at up to six years in the slammer.