Another Loop reminder to please, please be careful when using e-mail. Senate Judiciary Committee staffers received an e-mail last Tuesday at 5:25 p.m. from GOP colleague Troy Dow about the "Hatch-Leahy American Inventors Protection Act."

Dow explained the state of play on the legislation and attached a copy of the bill, a short summary and a listing of the differences between the Senate and House versions. Given the bipartisan support, none of the committee aides paid it all that much attention.

But folks perked up right fast when they received this e-mail from committee chief of staff Manus Cooney at 8:50 that evening.

"OGH [that would be committee Chairman Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah)] and I ran into Sleeze tonight and he was complaining about: 1. $5,000 automatic recovery; 2. non-applicability to lawyers. Let me know what these are asap. manus."

Whoa! Who is Sleeze? Some staffers thought Cooney might be talking about them. Others were certain that he was referring to a senator but couldn't decide which one, what with so many worthy candidates to choose from.

Two hours later, a somewhat sheepish e-mail floated in from Cooney: "Needless to say, I need to learn how to use this new e-mail a bit better."

Cooney, unfamiliar with the new system, didn't know that his personal response to Dow would go to all staffers--and then to their friends, to neighbors and to us.

And Sleeze? Turns out to be Clyde H. "Terry" Slease III, committee aides said, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represents invention promoters and had some concerns about how the provisions affected his clients.

Not as sleazy as some thought.

From the Beach to the Hill

Say you're planning a congressional briefing on a very important issue, like drowning prevention. You pull together a distinguished group of experts--someone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the head of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, the director of USA Swimming and a top-notch person from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The panel is going to "present an overview of the history of drowning, the risks that cause drowning and programs to prevent these drownings," according to a flyer circulating on the Hill from the Congressional Prevention Coalition, chaired by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Reps. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) and James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.).

But you know your audience. This panel, scheduled for Nov. 8, is not going to draw a big crowd. What to do? Bingo! What's one of the most popular shows on television? "Baywatch," of course. It's a show about drowning. (Okay, no one drowns. It's a show about incredibly sexy lifeguards cavorting about, bouncing up and down the beach in skimpy bathing suits, saving people.)

A coalition staffer was chatting with one of the panelists, who then contacted "Baywatch" about sending someone to the meeting. The show happily obliged. So which of those lovelies is going to get that crowd? Michael Newman, who stars as Newmie, says the "Dear Colleague" letter that's making the rounds.

Oh well. . . .

In Vermont, Super-Ads

Republicans in Vermont, even moderates like Sen. James M. Jeffords, can always use help, lots of it, when running for reelection. So it's Superman, a k a Christopher Reeve, to the rescue, according to Capital Style magazine. The wheelchair-bound Reeve is grateful to Jeffords for getting funding for spinal cord research. So Reeve, though he has campaigned for Democrats in the past, is doing a series of pro-Jeffords TV spots, praising his efforts on health care and medical research, the magazine reports.

Romash's New Role

More fallout from the Gore presidential campaign. Marla Romash, who had been deputy campaign chair, has stepped down from that job, which required a move to Nashville. Instead, she will operate as a paid consultant, focusing on New Hampshire, where she has been a consultant to Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D).

CAPTION: Vice President Gore and his wife, Tipper, pose in their Halloween costumes at their Naval Observatory home. The vice president dressed as the cartoon character Underdog; his wife was Polly Purebred.

CAPTION: "Baywatch" actor Michael Newman, with Donna D'Errico, left, and Traci Bingham, will flex his star power at a congressional panel on drowning.