And now E-mailgate?

"The White House on Wednesday started blocking all incoming e-mails originating from a new Web site produced by former Clinton adviser Dick Morris," said Wednesday's Drudge Report, bouncing back "more than 20,000 e-mails from the new Morris site, vote.com, during the last 24 hours."

Morris and his wife Eileen McGann set up the Web site this week to get the opinions of voters on hot issues. Any time someone casts a vote on the site, an e-mail is sent to the voter's representative and senators and to the White House.

Early Wednesday, Drudge reported, the White House blocked the e-mails. " 'This from the most open administration of this century?' a furious source close to Morris blasted." Now who might that have been?

The White House denied blocking anyone. "The White House system automatically slows the receipt of e-mails from any site that produces a large number of e-mails within a certain time frame," said spokesman Barry Toiv, to protect against system attacks. There has been "no denial of service for vote.com." The system simply "slowed the rate at which the e-mail was accepted," he said. "Actually, our system has no record of receiving anything remotely resembling the number of e-mails they claim to have sent."

"Believe me," Toiv said, "most of our computer geeks have the good fortune of not knowing who Dick Morris is."

Turban Crack Went to His Head

Remember Rep. Sonny Callahan's tirade last month against President Clinton's foreign aid policy? Where the Republican from Alabama took to the House floor and threatened to don a turban in order to get the same kind of attention from Clinton that the president lavishes on foreign heads of state?

Turns out to be a big hit back home. Callahan said he was praised for "defying the president," adding that his constituents particularly liked his "turban" reference.

"It resounded with the people of Mobile, Alabama," he said. "I was a hero at the Walmart."

Call Him 'Mr. Brown,' He Works for 'Don Pablo'

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee aides had a real mystery on their hands. Perusing the attendance list at a $1,000-per-person fund-raiser Oct. 26 for former representative Scotty Baesler (D-Ky.), they ran across a scribbled signature they couldn't make out.

Worse yet, the "affiliation" of the presumed donor was not your usual lobbying firm or trade group but rather "Don Pablo's," a restaurant in Virginia. Seemed like someone trying to hide his identity. But, oddly enough, the phone number provided was real. And it turned out to be the home number of one Phillip K. Brown, a name that seemed to match the scrawled signature.

But wait a minute. Phillip K. Brown? He works for Rep. Ernie Fletcher (R-Ky.), who won the seat Baesler gave up when he ran and lost his Senate bid last year. And Baesler is now running against Fletcher.

What, oh what, in the world would someone from Fletcher's office be doing attending a Baesler fund-raiser, the sleuths wondered.

Fletcher chief of staff Daniel Groves, indicating he didn't think Brown wanted to talk about this, assured us that "we didn't ask him to attend that. What he does in his own time is something we have no control over. I assume he went because he was interested." No doubt. And Don Pablo's? "He works there on the weekends," Groves said.

Besides, Groves said, Angela Bullock, Baesler's finance director, "attended our fund-raiser over the summer" when she "was up here visiting."

Reached back home in Kentucky, a bemused Bullock fessed up immediately. "He said that? I was working for Representative Carolyn McCarthy at the time," she said, not Baesler. "And Daniel Groves invited me to that fund-raiser. We are friends." Or maybe were friends?

Meanwhile, the DCCC is still waiting for Brown's check.

The Environment Knows New Bounds

Attorney General Janet Reno, announcing lawsuits the Department of Justice filed against various utility companies, accusing them of ignoring air quality rules, said: "The actions of these companies compromised our health and degraded the environment from Nashville to New Hampshire."

Primary thoughts?

Praise With a Starr Turn

Among the key lessons that Kenneth W. Starr says he learned during his five-year independent counsel investigation was that when it comes to the law, professionalism is vitally important--and not always evident.

Speaking to about 600 people at his first hometown speech in Reston yesterday, Starr singled out William H. Ginsburg, onetime lawyer for Monica S. Lewinsky, as the prime example of a lack of professionalism. Without ever mentioning Ginsburg's name, he cited this particular lawyer's five appearances on Sunday morning TV talk shows on a single day. A world record.

By contrast, Starr said, the lawyers who followed Ginsburg--they're the ones who eventually convinced Lewinsky to cooperate with Starr--were a pleasure to work with. By chance, one of those lawyers, Plato Cacheris, was in the audience.

Starr, who is working on a noninvestigation-related book, said he is enjoying being a "Mr. Mom" since leaving the post he held for five years. He said he will begin practicing law again "in the next millennium."