Veteran Washington insider Tom Korologos has been angry for years about the little blurb on the bust of former vice president Spiro T. Agnew outside the Senate chambers. All the former vice presidents have busts there along with brief biographies on small pieces of white poster board.

Agnew's, in addition to the standard bio information, has a line that says: "Agnew found it difficult to work with the Senate or gain the confidence of the White House."

Korologos, who worked in the Nixon White House, has long complained to no avail to Senate officials that the negative line simply isn't true.

On Tuesday, Korologos, a former sports editor for the Salt Lake Tribune, was spotted milling about near the bust, waiting for the Senate Republican luncheon to break up. A few minutes later, our source wandered by to look at the bust.

The line was crossed out with a felt-tip pen. Once an editor, always an editor?

Trafficking in Benzes

Was that Commerce Department spokesman Morrie Goodman out there in handcuffs on the Baltimore Beltway a couple of months ago? Sure enough was. Seems a Maryland state trooper pulled Goodman over for driving his snappy red 1969 Mercedes 280SL with stolen plates.

But being an excellent spinmeister, Goodman, who is addicted to buying and selling collector's cars on eBay and at other auctions, says he can explain everything. It all started, he says, when he took a vacation day to go to Baltimore to sell his 1970 Mercedes convertible.

He stopped for gas and accidentally filled the tank with diesel fuel. Oddly enough, the car didn't seem to like that and started smoking and wouldn't start. So he had the car towed and took a cab home and picked up the red one.

This one looked even snappier, with a spanking new paint job. Problem is the paint shop had mixed things up and put the wrong plates on his car, Goodman said. So he spent an hour as a special guest of the Maryland State Police before being released on his own recognizance.

Goodman says he'll beat the rap.

Next time buy American.

Growth on Herman's Hand Was a Big Rock

The buzz started a couple of weeks ago during Congressional Black Caucus week. What was with that huge rock on Labor Secretary Alexis Herman's right hand? A very serious diamond indeed. Herman, 52, didn't want to talk about it. She was trying to keep it secret--even as the stone's reflection was blinding people. She wanted to keep things quiet until November so she would have time to tell her family. She confided in a few friends but urged them not to talk about it.

So please don't pass this on, but she's engaged to Silver Spring family doctor Charles L. Franklin Jr., 53, a Howard University grad who's been practicing locally for 23 years. Her first, his third.

Unclear if there's a date set, but Herman would become the only married woman in the official Cabinet. (Not counting EPA's Carol M. Browner, who is not statutorily of Cabinet rank.)

Remember, keep this quiet for now.

Deanships for Bullet-Dodgers

Ambassador to New Zealand Josiah H. Beeman was back in town the other day and called to report that, contrary to a recent item, he's still down there representing Washington's views and interests. We were confused because the usual three- to four-year rotation is long up for him.

"I'm in my sixth year," Beeman said, "and I've dodged several silver bullets. It's one of the best-kept secrets. I'm the dean of American ambassadors."

Problem was the White House couldn't find anyone to replace him, though former senator Carol Moseley-Braun's nomination is awaiting sign-off by New Zealand.

5 Years and Many Crash Test Dummies Later

Mr. Safety, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Ricardo Martinez, is calling it quits after five years. He's heading off in two weeks to become a senior executive at an Atlanta-based Internet health care company. Martinez, an emergency room technician by training, oversaw NHTSA's development of a universal child restraint system and improved head injury protection in cars.

At the same time, NHTSA came under intense criticism for its handling of auto air bag safety after it was found the bags killed some women and children. That issue is still hanging, with Congress wanting an answer by March 1.

Another pending question is: Does the male crash test dummy sitting in a chair in Martinez's office stay or go? Those matters may be up to deputy administrator Rosalyn Millman.

The National Security Shuffle

Changes at the National Security Council . . . Mara Rudman takes over as chief of staff now that Donald Kerrick has picked up his third star and gone back to the Pentagon. Career foreign service officer Christopher R. Hill, former ambassador to Macedonia, is handling Balkan matters. Hans Binnendijk, senior director for defense and arms control, moves to be the top American deputy to NATO Secretary General George Robertson. Executive secretary Glyn T. Davies swaps jobs with Bob Bradtke, No. 2 at the embassy in London.