Iowa first lady Christie Vilsack is having to explain some long-ago comments.

In 1994 columns for a local newspaper, the former language teacher said that "some African-Americans speak to each other in an English I struggle to understand, then switch to standard English when the situation requires." Vilsack wrote that southerners seem to have "slurred speech" and that she'd "rather learn to speak Polish" than to talk like folks in New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, who address their children as "yoose."

The comments were unearthed by the frequently anti-Kerry Boston Herald and then distributed by the Republican National Committee. Vilsack, who is slated to address the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, said in a statement that "these are attacks by people who want to divide us and not bring us together."

Vilsack's husband, Gov. Tom Vilsack, was considered a possible candidate for vice president.

Kid Stuff

Howard Dean stood toe to toe with a Republican on Monday -- and lost.

The worst of it was, the kid was 9.

While Al Gore was addressing the convention, the former Vermont governor was in a hallway, good-naturedly smacking a hand-held bell as he tried to answer questions about American history. But he was bested by a confident Noah McCullough of Texas.

It was all a bit for "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," airing later this week. But Dean was as competitive as ever.

Who was president when the United States acquired Hawaii? Bing! Dean picked William McKinley and won. Who said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand"? Bing! Dean tied the score by answering Abraham Lincoln.

But Noah rallied with the first secretary of state (Jefferson), and Dean stumbled on the first president to travel outside the country (Theodore Roosevelt, not James Madison).

"The little Republican beat you," said quizmaster Donny Reisner. The victor generously gave the vanquished a George W. Bush doll.

Ann, We Hardly Knew Ye

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter was going to write a daily column from Boston for USA Today -- until she turned in a piece for Monday about "the Spawn of Satan convention."

"Democrats are constantly suing and slandering police as violent, fascist racists -- with the exception of Boston's police, who'll be lauded as national heroes right up until the Democrats pack up and leave town on Friday, whereupon they'll revert to their natural state of being fascist, racist pigs," Coulter wrote. And: "My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call 'women' at the Democratic National Convention."

This apparently was a bit much for USA Today, which dropped Coulter in favor of National Review's Jonah Goldberg. "We had some different conceptions of what the column should be, we tried to work them out, and we couldn't," Editorial Page Editor Brian Gallagher told Editor & Publisher.

Coulter posted the spiked piece on her Web site and said in a statement: "USA Today doesn't like my 'tone,' humor, sarcasm, etc., which raises the intriguing question of why they hired me to write for them."