Jewish World Review June 5, 2003 / 5 Sivan, 5763

Lloyd Grove

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Consumer Reports

Incoming from Barbara Bush? | WASHINGTON Never mind the blockbuster autobiography by that other former first lady. We hear Barbara Bush's latest is so hot that her publisher's in-house libel lawyers are asking her to tone it down.

"Reflections," Bush's memoir of the eight years between her husband's and son's presidencies, is being published Oct. 14 by Lisa Drew/Scribner. We hear that the recently completed manuscript -- every word written by the 77-year-old wife of George Bush the elder -- contains nearly a dozen passages that have caused the lawyers heartburn. In a couple of instances, we're told, the author has agreed to changes, but in most cases, she's sticking to her guns.

We surveyed several Bush family friends to get an idea of which people might be the best-selling author's juiciest targets. The speculation includes cartoonist Garry Trudeau and New York Times pundit Maureen Dowd (relentless critics of the current President Bush), 1980 Bush campaign speechwriter turned Bill Clinton aide David Gergen, Democrat Ann Richards and independent candidate Ross Perot ("that woman" and "that horrid little man," respectively, in the Barbara Bush lexicon), and Republicans Patrick Buchanan, Steve Forbes and John McCain, who drew Bush blood in various political campaigns.

Former President Bush's Chief of Staff Jean Becker, one of the few who have seen the book, declined to comment except to predict: "It's going to be a very interesting book -- very chatty and very conversational, with Barbara Bush's typically refreshing and candid opinions about life."


Cybergossip Matt Drudge dragged Monica Lewinsky into the spotlight, but he keeps his own private life private, the better to maintain that air of mystery. But under grilling by social critic Camille Paglia and Radar magazine editor Maer Roshan, the proprietor of the billion-hit-a-year outs himself as a registered Republican and a "new-age Jew"; savages former lawsuit opponent Sidney Blumenthal as "a liar" and NBC anchor-heir apparent Brian Williams as a "blow-dried gym bunn(y)"; claims that the Democratic National Committee has assembled a "dirt file" on Condoleezza Rice; and predicts that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., will be elected president.

"She's a superstar," Drudge says. "She is the Democrat to beat in '08, and her opponent may turn out to be Rudy Giuliani. And if I had to predict right now, I would think she could clean up."

Other subjects receiving the Drudge treatment:

Outing: "I have never done it myself. . . . I don't do a lot of sex stuff and I know that sounds ironic in light of my most famous story . . . but it happens to be true." His own sex life: "Huh? (Laughs) I'm going to pass on that." His spiritual life: "You could probably call me a new-age Jew. I'm really into meditation. . . . But the older I get, the closer I feel to a creator."

Rice: "Oh, she's a powerhouse! But the DNC has a dirt file on her that is really thick. Think of 'The Contender' . . . "

DNC Communications Director Debra DeShong gave us a non-denial denial. "We don't talk about our research," she said, "but we understand that Arnold Schwarzenegger" -- who might face President Bush's national security adviser in the GOP primary of a future California governor's race -- "has a real good file on her."


-- Cause celeb Alicia Keys was on Capitol Hill this week talking to Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., among others, about her experience meeting AIDS sufferers in Africa. "They played it very cool, very Hillish, very D.C.," the 22-year-old told us about her congressional interlocutors. "I saw the amount of poverty and the people living with AIDS. People my age, people younger, babies who are orphans because AIDS has taken their parents' life. It's incredible what's going on and we're just sitting here chillin'."

-- Tom Daschle was kicked out of his job as Senate majority leader six months ago after the 2002 elections. But the South Dakota Democrat learned anew yesterday just what loss of power means in Washington. When the senator arrived to meet his 22-year-old daughter Lindsay for lunch at the Daily Grill on Monday, the downtown restaurant didn't have his reservation and kept him waiting. "When the wait dragged on," a spy e-mailed, "the restaurant's uber bartender, Mary Beam, made her way to the front desk, explaining who precisely the restaurant was delaying." Finally, a front table was found.

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06/02/03: Bob Dole's plan for fighting unemployment
05/29/03: Newt's new novel
05/27/03: Hitchens & Blumenthal, together again; He still believes in a man called Hope
05/09/03: Close, but no cigar; Romeo & Juliet with a happy ending?; Geraldo to help Heebs?
05/05/03: So Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw walk into a coffee bar . . .; hotel hell; more

© 2003, Creators Syndicate