And now, the winners and their picks in the In the Loop Pick The Potentate Contest to find the perfect viceroy to govern postwar Iraq:

* Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos: "Because of his experience in transforming a perennial powerhouse into a non-threat." -- Local lawyer Scot Stone.

* Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig: "Baseball's gain, Iraq's loss." -- Local attorney Steve Llewellyn. Also David Michaels, a research professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health, who saw Selig's departure as a boost for baseball in Washington.

* Outgoing Health and Human Services inspector general Janet Rehnquist, who's been under investigation for various matters, including keeping a gun in her office: "She's tough, she's armed, she's available." -- Elizabeth D., a Bethesda lawyer, submitted the morning the story broke on Rehnquist's departure.

* Anna Nicole Smith: She "possesses not only the stature for the job but has the proven ability to squeeze big bucks out of aging white guys from Texas -- an indispensable talent given the likely . . . source of postwar reconstruction funds." -- Los Angeles attorney and prior contest winner Mark Steinberg.

* H. Ross Perot: "Results-oriented Texan, well-rested. Kids safely married off." -- National Defense University professor George Topic.

* Andrew S. Fastow, former Enron chief financial officer: He "exiled critics and crushed internal dissent while simultaneously wooing investment bankers and stock analysts. Saddam-esque skills." -- University of Texas doctoral degree candidate John Walewski. (The Justice Department would have to give Fastow permission to leave the country.)

* Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.): "The King of Pork. Just think of all the monies that would begin flowing to Iraq instead of West Virginia." -- David Cole, a retired congressional lobbyist in the Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush I administrations.

* Former Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards: Now doing time for racketeering and fraud, Edwards "used to run an oil-producing state, it would be an easy way to get . . . a sentence commutation, and a brilliant way to begin his political comeback." -- Elliott Baer, Emory University economics doctoral student.

Also in the "soon-to-be-available" category: former Providence mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr. Now doing five years for racketeering, he "transformed Rhode Island's capital into a first-rate city [and could] do the job in Baghdad." -- Tod Preston, congressional liaison for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

* Ann Coulter: Noting her rather intemperate post-9/11 suggestion that " 'We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.' This will give her the chance to do her part to fulfill her vision." -- Annandale software engineer Fil Feit. Also submitted by nonprofit consultant Doug Williams of Syria, Va.

* Paul Cellucci: The ambassador to Canada has had a couple years "in dealing with a nation and people who are openly hostile to the U.S.A., its government, people and values." -- Stephanie Whittaker, who lives in a suburb of Manchester, England, and is a marketing coordinator for Halcrow consulting.

And a top honorable mention for suggesting Sharon Osbourne: "Tough (she beat cancer), articulate (British accent) and media savvy (MTV star.) She may not speak Arabic, but if she can understand what Ozzy is mumbling, then she should have no problem there." -- Peter Choi, a business owner in Los Angeles.

Other candidates included Al Sharpton, Jesse Ventura, Rudolph W. Giuliani, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Las Vegas mayor and criminal defense lawyer Oscar B. Goodman and, of course, Marion Barry.

Thanks to all for entering, and congrats to the winners.

No-Cut Contact

The Pentagon has long been working to get out from under environmental restrictions on military activities. And the Endangered Species Act (ESA) has been among the most troublesome laws over the years.

So in November, then-Navy Secretary Gordon R. England sent a "policy guideline" to top Navy and Marine Corps officials noting that, "while I am a strong proponent of decentralization, it is important that our well-intentioned personnel in the field not make local accommodations to introduce new species, habitats, etc., on our bases outside or beyond the requirements of the ESA.

"My concern," England wrote, "is that while individual concessions appear insignificant, over time we die from a thousand cuts. Additionally, some concessions could run counter to the legislative relief that we are continuing to pursue with the Congress."

That's for sure. Can't show how bad the law is, or justify broad exemptions, if base commanders go off and work things out to everyone's satisfaction.

Withdrawal Pains

The White House Council on Environmental Quality is trying (not too hard) to figure out who the joker was who sent out all those bogus invitations to business and other groups to attend a bogus White House reception Thursday with President Bush to honor ExxonMobil CEO Lee R. Raymond "on the 2nd anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol."

CEQ got a handful of calls, a White House official said, but only seeking to confirm it was a hoax. Looked pretty real, though, despite minor errors.