Wonk'd: Cultural Bus-Catching
Our second to last Wonk'd of the slow season. Please keep collecting the lamest excuses for "famous" that you can -- and remember, we're including famous-for-DC outside of DC -- and send them to . In this issue, an actually rather impressive-for-August number of sightings of famous-for-DC, including lots of generals (Clark, Meyers, McCaffrey), George Will hyping and diving, Tucker Carlson at McDonald's, Leahy, Dukakis, Coulter, Baldridge, Koppel, Chertoff, Woodruff, Kerry, McClellan, Pennington, Clinton, Obama, King, Sharpton, Gannon, Hunt.
They're all after the jump.
• On July 31, about 12:30 p.m., I saw George Will stare death in the face -- and win. I was on M St. in Georgetown, two blocks from Barnes and Noble (going toward downtown). He looked frustrated, grumpy and in a rush. He was looking intently across the street, as if searching for a specific place. Dressed in typical Republican garb -- a light blue Oxford button-down, buttoned collars, expensive kaki pants and the most hideous red tie I've ever seen -- he had several manila folders tucked under his left arm. They appeared to contain newspaper clippings and other documents. George seemed to decide he needed to be on the opposite side of the street and started to dart across the street as if he were entitled to everyone stopping their cars for him (wait, don't conservatives hate entitlements?). Well, George didn't look to his left and was nearly blindsided by a Georgetown Connector bus. Ten feet or two seconds later and the next time we would have turned our nose up at George Will in the Post would have been in the Obits. George then proceeded to throw a fit because the bus driver didn't stop and bask in the columnist's greatness -- he stomped back to the sidewalk, pumping his fists and mumbling under his breath. I couldn't tell if he dropped the N-bomb...
Was he being karmically punished for this move? • George F. Will at the Georgetown Barnes & Noble buying a copy of "Men At Work" by none other than George Will. Has his publisher become stingy and refused to give him any more copies? Is he trying to boost his sales figures a decade after its release? Is he sending Jimmy Carter an autographed copy after his recent column attacking the former president in an attempt to make amends? Only GFW really knows....
• ted koppel -- Saw him driving down K St. in his black Mercedes SUV around 6:00 p.m [Aug. 11]
• The other day on my morning walk to work I saw a man come out of McDonalds with some sort of gi-normous breakfast sandwich in his hand. I did a double-take, mostly due to the conspicuous bowtie he was wearing, and thought to myself, “gosh, if this guy was like 10 pounds lighter, he would be Tucker Carlson’s twin.” And then later that day I saw a promo for his new MSNBC show (a.k.a. his serious career demotion) and realized, that it was indeed Tucker stuffing his face with McDonalds at 8am on M Street. Two things come to mind: 1) no wonder Tucker is fat, he has resorted to the ultimate American eat-this-when-you-are-depressed-and-ultimately-self-destructive-food, and 2) he really wears bowties outside the studio? At 8am in McDs? He was (satisfyingly) everything I ever expected of him.
• Here's a twofer that happened the same day. A few weeks ago I was heading off to Napa with my wife and some friends when I stepped into a men's room at Dulles for a pre-flight pitstop. In the corner of the bathroom, leisurely holding an overlong cane and scrolling intently on his Blackberry was Sen. Leahy. Huh, I thought, how nice to see one of my favorite old liberal lions before my trip.
It must have been good karma day.
Five hours later at SFO, we're in what possibly could have been the longest car rental line ever to have materialized on this earth, when a kindly looking older gentleman with a droppy expression (yet sporting an exquisitely coiffed mane) ambled by. His face triggered deja-vu but I had no idea who it was until my buddy spoke up: "Hey, did you just see Dukakis walk by?"
In a room easily containing at least a thousand folks, I'm pretty sure we were the only ones in the place who had recognized him. I caught sight of him again walking by his lonesome a few more times and each time I couldn't help but think that he at least deserved a cute, perky assistant at his side...
• Last Friday 8/5 saw Ann Coulter boarding a USAIRWAYS flight from National to West Palm Beach. My buddy put two and two together as she walked by heading into the bathroom, so we camped outside and followed her to the gate next to ours. Sure enough, it was her; she's really tall and I looked for a bulge in her pants where she stuffs her tail, but saw no trace. How'd the pitchfork make it through TSA's awesome security?
• Saw a bewigged but very engaged Letitia Baldridge (Jackie Kennedy's social secretary) dining at DC Coast the evening of August 9.
• Wednesday night at Old Ebbitt's, Joint Chief of Staff Chariman General Myers was dining. His security detail was sitting at the next table and a people were chatting them up to get pictures taken with him. I guess if you want to avoid interns in August, Old Ebbitt's at Happy Hour isn't the time or place.
• not sure if this is interesting enough (pretty sure it isn't), but Tuesday this week I was eating lunch at a table next to Secretary of
Homeland Security himself Michael Chertoff and two companions at Chef Geoff near AU...he seemed to be enjoying himself...which sort of surprised me given that I thought he was grim death warmed over from making his acquaintance via low-res images on the internets. Then - as I was leaving - Judy Woodruff dropped in looking exactly as televised. I was new to this power lunch establishment so did not realize it was such the spot...
• Ex-General/Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey in the Dulles security line Friday night, looking rather like a workadayJoe. Shoes off, no "know who I am stunts. "
• I was on a flight from LA to DC a few weeks ago, sitting behind none other than General Wesley Clark. He bought one of those over priced snack packs from the airlines, and apparently didn’t feel the meat to bread ratio was sufficient, so called over a stewardess to ask if there was any extra meat he could have since he had eaten all of the meat given to him and still had bread left. I am not joking. The stewardess came back with some unidentifiable meat and gave it to the General. Again, I am not joking. He was very appreciative for the meat, and very friendly in general the entire flight.
• Saw John Freakin' Kerry in our sleepy hamlet of Bozeman, Montana yesterday (8/11). Riding my bike to work through a residential section of town, I noticed a man who looked remarkably like the junior senator from Massachusetts. He was getting into a pimped-out ford f-150 (black, tinted windows) with massachusettes plates towing a sleek black trailer. Across the street, an couple (older, late 50's) were standing on the curb, ostensibly seeing him off.
I tried to convince myself it wasn't him as it's not often we see presidential candidates hereabouts, especially democrats. But I was haunted by that chin, the lanky frame and those early 90's gargoyle sunglasses. By the time this all registered, I had gone another block or two (I ride fast). I was about 80% sure I had seen JK, but coupled with the massachusetts plates, that figure jumped to the low 90 percentile.
So, I got to work feeling slightly hallucinatory (was it the fruit loops?). Trying to gather more evidence, I googled "'john kerry' & bozeman", and lo and behold, it turns out his first wife, the very private Ms. Thorne, lives in bozeman (something I didn't know) and she lives exactly where I saw him (a very nice place, by the way). All these facts together bumped the percentile into the high 90s. As they say: if it looks like an also-ran, smells like an also-ran and walks like and also-ran, it's probably a democrat.
Anyhow, in this morning's paper, my suspicions were confirmed. He's on a road trip with an aide driving to his summer place in Sun Valley. Apparently, they're retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark on their way to Idaho. Cute huh? He quoted talking about the natural beauty of Montana, saying "every moment just grabs you." Makes me wonder how they passed the time through North Dakota...
• Scott McClellan: Seen Saturday night in Nashville, attending the biennial national conference of his old fraternity (Sigma Phi Epsilon.) He was honored with an award for being a distinguished alum or somesuch, and true to form, managed to say absolutely nothing substantive in his acceptance speech. The sighting was enough to send a few of us scurrying from the awards dinner for whiskey shots to mourn / forget our collective bond. Love the brother, hate the politics, right? Right.
• Ty Pennington: I work part time as a waiter at Sine in Pentagon City, and Ty Pennington from Trading Spaces and Extreme Home Makeover came in last night. I had no idea who he was, (he looked vaguely familiar to me but I just figured he was a regular whom I had served a beer before), but the girls I work with were fawning all over him. He was with a friend, and they ordered 2 beers (grand total $9) and left me a $11 tip. They were going to stick around and have steaks, but I told them they were crazy to eat there when there was a Ruth's Chris like a half mile away, so that's where they went.
• I was a line-gawker as people exited publisher John Johnson's funeral today, which was held at the University of Chicago's
Rockefeller Chapel (which looks a lot less like a Chapel than like a Rockefeller.) I myself am an inferior species of line-gawker since my vision isn't actually all that hot, and to tell the truth black men in dark suits do start to look the same at about 200 paces. But there were exceptions: a woman next to me identified one guy as Louis Farrakhan, and although I couldn't confirm it myself I could certainly keep track of him because he was wearing bright purple. Bill Clinton was easy to pick out because his head basically glowed white (there was one other white-headed guy who, my optically superior friend confirmed, did in fact resemble Clinton quite a bit.) Barack Obama moves so gracefully that I almost wonder if he isn't a GQ plant. And, of course, even I could recognize Don King. (he counts as a political deleb, right?) as for up close(r), Rev. Al Sharpton gave us a wave as he walked by on his cell phone.
• Longtime reader – first time caller -- My vision isn’t what it used to be and maybe some of your gentle readers may also pipe up since it’s a very busy intersection, but I could’ve sworn I saw Guckert / Gannon (and a pal) doing a latte al fresco at the Starbucks @ 13 & U Sts NW this morning. Certainly no way to start a day, but it’s August you know. I live around the corner and was walking my Greyhound but from across the street it looked like him. He was cruising the crap out t of me too whoever he was.
• Ever wonder what executive editors of The Wall Street Journal and panelists on The Capital Gang do during their Sundays? Well, if you’re Al Hunt, you joined me on the running track behind Sidwell Friends. Despite the heat and the 4,000% humidity, Mr. Judy Woodruff maintained a steady pace and seemed in tip-top shape. Me? I was just trying to sweat out the previous night’s overindulgences.