When he's asked whether he is running for president in 2008, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) usually bobs and weaves and says he's running for reelection next year. After that, he says, there'll be plenty of time to talk about '08.

But Richardson, former congressman, energy secretary, ambassador to the United Nations, globe-trotting troubleshooter and now author, seemed to be hewing a different line this week. Richardson's been in town, hawking his riveting new autobiography, "Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life."

He stopped first at the home of Clinton White House Chief of Staff Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty for a book party and then went on to old pals Elizabeth and Smith Bagley's lovely manse in Georgetown for dinner with two dozen well-heeled folks, a majority of whom didn't know him.

The idea, according to several guests, was to have a little chat, a Washington gathering, a chance for important folks, friends of the Bagleys, to size up the chairman of the Democratic Governors Association and maybe down the road support his reelection bid. It was to be, we hear, a completely social event.

The guests included AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey, Washington developer Herbert S. Miller, Carlyle Group founder and managing director David M. Rubinstein, former U.S. Information Agency chief Joseph Duffey and lobbyist Anne L. Wexler, former congressman and ambassador to Mexico James R. Jones, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terence R. McAuliffe, and international lawyer Tom Wilner and bed linen designer Jane Wilner. Some members of the group were definitely committed to support Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in 2008, others not.

After a dinner of lamb and wild rice and crepes suzette, Richardson held forth.

"You gotta read my book," he said a few times, and then he explained why governors were the future for Democrats. Then: "Keep your powder dry," Richardson was quoted by one guest as saying, "I'm running, and you can tell people that." Two others recalled him saying: "I'm going in 2008."

The group was "a little surprised," said one attendee. "It wasn't billed as an announcement dinner." Well, sometimes things happen.

Baseball Souvenir a Hit

Speaking of the well-traveled Richardson, he also ventured recently to North Korea on a mission to defuse tensions over the nuclear program of the lunatic regime of Kim Jong Il.

Richardson was even allowed to visit the country's only nuclear plant. In a gesture of friendship, he handed out baseball caps from Albuquerque's Class AAA baseball team, the Albuquerque Isotopes. The 50 or so workers lucky enough to get the souvenir hats quickly recognized the symbol.

Know Your Marquezes

Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, in his welcoming address at last weekend's Summit of the Americas, talked of his country's miraculous economic recovery and launched a major rant against the International Monetary Fund.

The country's economic miracle, done without IMF help, Kirchner said, was such that famed Colombian novelist "Garcia Marquez" might want to use his "magical realism" style to write a few paragraphs about it.

President Bush, who somehow managed to stay awake through Kirchner's dreadful economics tour, leaned over to ask Bolivian President Eduardo Rodriguez a question.

Rodriguez wasn't sure he understood and Bush repeated the question.

"One Hundred Years of Solitude," Rodriguez said, apparently figuring that would explain the reference to Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Not to be confused with Gonzalo Marquez, a utility player briefly for the Oakland A's and Chicago Cubs back in the early '70s.

Cheney -- It Speaks Volumes

Vice President Cheney's daughter Elizabeth Cheney must have one of the longest titles in officialdom: "principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and coordinator for broader Middle East and North Africa initiatives."

Albuquerque's new baseball team may have gained some fans in North Korea.