Former Iraq viceroy L. Paul Bremer, President Bush's close pal, sure kicked up a bit of a fuss Monday when he talked about how "we never had enough troops on the ground" to effectively occupy Iraq.

This left White House aides scrambling Monday night to deny he said that, or if he did say it, that it was off the record or that he was misquoted or that it really wasn't Bremer but someone claiming to be Bremer.

That gaffe alone may not have been enough to deep-six Bremer's chances for a top job in a second Bush term. But then Bremer also put in a good word for the president's Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, on Iraq.

So while Bush is out there campaigning, saying Kerry's policies "are dangerous for world peace," Bremer is at the Greenbrier resort, telling the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers on Monday that he thought things in Iraq would be okay no matter who wins the election.

Bremer said, "My impression is that both the candidates have more or less the same plan": building up Iraq's security, keeping U.S. troops there until the country is stable and working to defeat terrorism around the world.

"America's not a nation of quitters," he said, according to an account provided by the CIAB. "Both candidates have made it clear we will see it through."

We trust this means Bremer has definitely decided to join the private sector, if not the Kerry campaign.

Don't Cross These Eyes

People on the Hill had been talking about how House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is looking different these days. Something about his eyes.

Turns out he has had plastic surgery to touch them up a bit. The Hammer has "joined the nip-and-tuck club," Roll Call reports, and everyone says he looks great.

"I had my eyes checked by my ophthalmologist," he told the paper's "Heard on the Hill" column. His upper lids had become so heavy, as apparently they are prone to do with age, that they were "blocking my vision."

Ah, the old "vision" thing.

Pardon Me?

Spin of the Week award: The winner, despite intense competition, is national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Rice, chatting Sunday with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, was asked about Bush's claim that Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who sold nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran, and Libya, had been "brought to justice."

"To 'justice'?" Blitzer asked, saying that seemed to be very "sloppy wording," since Khan had been "pardoned by President [Pervez] Musharraf."

Khan, who has done more damage to the security of the United States than anyone since Benedict Arnold, "himself lives in a villa," Blitzer noted -- actually five of them. "And the [International Atomic Energy Agency] would like to question him, and the Pakistani government doesn't even allow that to happen."

"A.Q. Khan, in a sense, has been brought to justice," Rice said with a straight face, "because he is out of the business that he loved most. . . . And if you don't think that his national humiliation is justice for what he did, I think it is. He's nationally humiliated."

Well, so is Ken Lay. So is Martha Stewart, and she's going to the slammer. But we hanged Arnold's co-conspirator. And if we could have found Arnold. . . .

Site for Sore Ayes

Speaking of Kerry, there's a new Web site appealing to a critical block of voters: the Web site Kerry Haters for Kerry (www.kerryhatersforkerry.com).

The site's opening pitch reads: "Are you going to vote for John Kerry even though you find him unpleasant, annoying, arrogant, waffling, misguided or just generally unappealing in some profound way? Then you've come to the right place! We're Kerry Haters for Kerry -- perhaps his largest constituency."

The site lists Al Gore and Bill Bradley, among others, as "honorary members."

Of course they hate Bush even more.

Speaking of Leaping

Off his meds again?

"Nader Dreamed of Leaping Onstage in a Cape," said the Miami Herald headline the day after the presidential debate last week.

"Left on the sidelines of the presidential debate, long-shot candidate and alleged race-spoiler Ralph Nader was nonetheless at the University of Miami -- criticizing the two headliners and plotting an unscripted cameo on the prime time stage," the Herald said.

" 'If I could only go through the ducts and leap out onstage in a cape -- that's my dream,' " Nader said at a school faculty club dinner as he decried " 'a presidential puppet show, a presidential charade' set up by the Bush and Kerry campaigns."

Repair Those Recs

Don't forget! The Interior Department Recreation Association is sponsoring an educational session on beauty today.

"IDRA presents Faces of Dimensions by Nikki," our e-mail invite said. It'll be in the department's "North Lobby basement level" from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"Cosmetics/Skin Care/Fragrances" will be on the agenda with "Licensed Make-up Artist Independent Image Consultant."

So it's the Exterior Department, as well?