Tales from the land of Compassionate Conservatism. When Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) was looking for a little high-powered help with the media for his presidential campaign, he personally wooed David Beckwith, veteran newsman and former vice president Dan Quayle's press secretary, to come on board.

For Beckwith, that meant leaving Washington, quitting his presumably lucrative private-sector gig and moving his family down to Austin. And not to mention miffing Quayle, who is, last we checked, running against Bush. But Bush wooed and won.

And when the end came, how did Beckwith hear the news that he had resigned? Word is he heard it from senior Bush campaign aides. In fact, as of Wednesday afternoon, a day after the "mutual resignation" was announced, Bush told reporters he still hadn't "had a chance to talk to" Beckwith. Been on the road, Bush explained.

But Beckwith is "a good friend," and "I'll help him in any way I can," Bush said, in terms of finding future employment.

Good thing Beckwith was such a good friend. Bush wouldn't have been so stand-up and compassionate otherwise.

Aide Gambols on Reno and Loses

Meanwhile, there's a great job opening on the Hill. Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-Idaho) is looking for a new legislative director. Her former LD since 1996, Gregory Peek, resigned Monday after his arrest in Reno last week--his ninth arrest over more than a decade for various offenses, including indecent exposure (five times), driving while intoxicated and destruction of property. The Hill newspaper reported Peek was convicted or pleaded guilty in at least four of the cases.

Time to tighten up on the vetting?

Animal, Vegetable or Nobody?

As that hotel commercial goes, "never underestimate the value of a good night's sleep." So there was Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) parrying questions Sunday from NBC-TV's Tim Russert on "Meet the Press."

Russert asked about a "hold" that Lott had placed on the nomination of diplomat Richard C. Holbrooke to be U.N. ambassador in order to force the Clinton administration to put Lott's nominee on the Federal Election Commission.

"Who is Bradley Smith?" Russert asked.

Lott, looking temporarily stunned, kinda like he got hit with a heavy skillet, said: "Bradley Smith? Now let's see. . . . That sounds familiar. . . . Who is Bradley Smith?" he asked Russert.

"Roll Call: 'Lott's Secret. Holbrooke Holds . . .' " Russert prompted.

"Holds . . . Brad Smith," Lott said, seeming to catch on. "Heh, heh, heh . . . "

"Bradley Smith is your candidate for the Federal Election Commission," Russert said.

"Right," Lott agreed.

Gingrich Tunes In FM Band

Is Freddie Mac doing Fannie Mae one better?

Six months ago Fannie Mae hired Arne Christiansen, ex-chief of staff for former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

Now we find that Freddie Mac has signed up Gingrich & Associates to provide "strategic consulting services on a variety of issues, primarily legislative and regulatory issues," said Freddie Mac spokesman Sharon McHale. No lobbying, she said. "It's strictly a consulting role."

How much is he being paid? McHale says there's no obligation to disclose, but "we don't anticipate it will be a lot of time or money because his role is going to be quite limited."

In Transit

Patrick Dorton, former press secretary for Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.) and then for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) for the last three years, has moved to the White House to be communications director for Gene Sperling at the National Economic Council.

Jim O'Hara, head of the Food and Drug Administration's public affairs operation during the David Kessler Era and more recently senior adviser to Surgeon General David Satcher, is off to consult for the Pew Charitable Trusts, where he will design a public education campaign as part of a public health initiative.

Running for Whip?

The latest issue of George magazine profiles Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), who speaks of many things, including a rough patch between her husband and the Church of Scientology. The article also includes this picture of her modeling in California in 1987.

"My 'Sheena, the Jungle Woman From Hell' picture," Bono joked yesterday. "I guess it really was a bad hair day."

Not to mention those carpet samples stitched together for a top.

"Other members," Bono said, "have started coming up to me--I'm not saying which ones--and telling me about what they consider their most humiliating pictures and saying, 'I realize this could be me.' "

We don't think so.

CAPTION: 'Jungle Woman From Hell'