For its November "Women We Love" issue, Esquire polled 3,414 readers - whose eyes for the ladies tend to favor the GOP.
In the category "Hottest wife of a presidential or vice-presidential candidate," the winner was first lady Laura Bush (47 percent), with 30 percent choosing Teresa Heinz Kerry, 20 percent picking Elizabeth Edwards and 3 percent choosing Lynne V. Cheney.
And since John Kerry's campaign has declared the children of candidates "fair game," The Beltway Beat can report that Esquire readers judged the Massachusetts Democrat's daughters less attractive than President Bush's girls.
For "Hottest daughter of a presidential candidate," the magazine's top honors went to Jenna Bush (38 percent), with Barbara Bush and Alexandra Kerry tied for second at 24 percent, and Vanessa Kerry at 13 percent.
Laura Bush received a batch of letters from kindergarten students whose teacher asked them to recite what they think are the responsibilities of the first lady.
A little girl named Shelby replied: "Help the president with his paperwork and then help him clean his office. Take care of him when he's sick and put cold cloths on his head."
While Megan observed: "Feed the dogs and plant the daffodils and do the president's speeches when he isn't feeling well."
As for Todd, who obviously has an eye for fashion, he stated: "Wear pretty suits and shovel the snow and feed the birds."
MIND YOUR TONGUE
Vice President Dick Cheney was joined by supportive community leaders for a cup of coffee and conversation this week at the Grill in Charleston, W.Va., within earshot - or so Cheney cautioned the West Virginians - of the national press.
"(T)he press are with us, of course," the vice president observed. "But we don't hold that against them. But you just need to know whatever you say is going to be broadcasted or recorded, so I like to warn people when they're on the record.
"It's a cautionary note that some of my colleagues in the Congress and government often forget at their peril."
Spotted by The Beltway Beat reader Terence McManus at the annual fair in Farmington, Maine: a T-shirt with a first-line caption of "Kerry for President" - followed by the second line - "of France."
Mike Inganamort tells this column that he and several other students at American University are behind a new Web site - stopmarionbarry.com - and petition drive critical of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who, despite a tarnished reputation and criminal record last month won the Democratic primary for city council.
"We feel that Marion Barry is a disgrace to Washington, D.C. - and even to American politics," Inganamort says. "The voters in D.C. don't seem to care, but it's our nation's capital, too."
PEPE LE PEW
Gary Bastian, a former four-term alderman in upstate New York, is urging his fellow homosexual Republicans to "hold their noses and vote for Bush" on Nov. 2 because the Kerry-Edwards ticket has failed to demonstrate that it deserves the support of an estimated 4 million homosexual voters.
"I get tired of politically correct, gay Democrats," Bastian says. "Let's face it: John Kerry and his running mate John Edwards rarely mention lesbian and gay issues on the campaign trail. The only reason most gay voters support Kerry is because he is not (George W.) Bush."
It's getting ugly out there.
With less than two weeks before Election Day, Willa Untiedt, a grandmother who lives in Northern Virginia, was in Hancock Fabrics in downtown Vienna to pick up a pattern to make her 5-year-old grandson a red velvet vest.
"Here I am buying thread," observes Untiedt, "and there is this woman next to me looking at trim who is wearing a button. Now I wear bifocals, so I had to move forward to see this button, and . . . then I stepped back very quickly. I have learned to keep away from people like that."
The button read "Kill Bush."
"She was in my age range," says Untiedt.
So what did Untiedt do next?
She felt it her civic duty to contact the Secret Service, which frowns upon such expressions of presidential demise, regardless of party or campaign season. The president's bodyguards went so far as to patch the loving grandmother into Uncle Sam's new terrorist hot line.
While this material was unfolding, just across the Potomac River in Washington's fashionable - and open-minded - Dupont Circle, Teri Galvez agreed to open her elegant four-story home to the Dupont Circle House Tour.
"This is the second time I have been asked to do it," Galvez tells us. "My house has been on HGTV twice, so it is always a draw for folks who want to see the renovation of a historical property.
"Anyway, I took the tour myself to see everyone else's home. I saw many Kerry signs and quite a few nasty Bush signs, such as 'Re-defeat Bush,' et cetera."
Then again, what more culturally sensitive neighborhood than trendy Dupont Circle to celebrate tolerance of thy neighbor?
"Well," Galvez says, "one house monitor thought my five Bush signs might be offensive to those in Dupont Circle, and he took them down."
Are you serious?
"I came back to my house to pick up my dog and saw that they had been removed," she says.
So what happened next?
"I put (the Bush signs) back at 3:30 p.m. when the tour was almost over and threatened to shut my house down if they were removed again. What do you think about that?"
GRAB YOUR SHOVELS
So, former President Bill Clinton, what's your prediction going into the final two weeks of the 2004 presidential mudslinging?
"This race truly is too close to call. The outcome in state after state will be determined by whether our side can respond to the last-minute avalanche of mud we fully expect to come our way."
KERRY A CHURCH
Here's a twist: The conservative Family Research Council is looking to team up (sort of) with Sen. John Kerry on the issues of free speech and church and state.
In a letter to the Democratic presidential nominee, council Vice President Connie Mackey is formally requesting that Kerry - "upon his return to Congress" - sponsor a Senate companion bill to the House side's Houses of Worship Political Speech Protection Act.
The unusual request comes in the wake of Kerry's presence of late as guest speaker during Sunday services at several houses of worship nationwide. Earlier this month, for example, Kerry joined preachers - the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton - for services at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami. During the service, the senator was endorsed from the pulpit by the church's pastor.
In her letter, Mackey suggests legislation Kerry might propose could "restore freedom of speech to our country's churches, mosques and synagogues," and "is an important defense to the basic right of free speech," which the council considers a top priority.
"(B)y the use of the tax code, churches and other houses of worship are scared into silence on matters of public morality because of sensitivity to political restrictions," she states.
The proper interpretation of "separation of church and state," the council notes, has been debated by both political parties in reference to endorsements by members of the clergy.