Have our eyes deceived us - has Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) been named one of the Top 25 "Toughest Guys" in America by Men's Journal?
"Is there anyone who doubts that the toughest penalty Bill paid for the Monica scandal was at home?" ask editors of the men's magazine.
And yes, Sen. Clinton - who tied for 25th - is the only woman on the list, appearing with some of the strongest, toughest, bravest men in business, sports, politics and journalism.
Ranked No. 1 is Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, followed by Michael Weisskopf, the Time magazine correspondent who two months ago lost his right hand while covering the war in Iraq. An insurgent had lobbed a hissing grenade into the back of the army patrol Humvee he was riding in with a photographer and four soldiers, the magazine notes. But instead of diving for cover, Weisskopf "grabbed it and volleyed it away just as it exploded - taking his right hand with it but saving the lives of everyone in the vehicle."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a former Vietnam prisoner of war, is the only other politician to make the annual tough guy list. As for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, he tied with Sen. Clinton for 25th.
What could birth order have to do with this year's presidential campaign? Perhaps more than you think.
Dr. Kevin Leman, a medical psychologist and best-selling author, reveals that 23 out of 41 U.S. presidents (56 percent) were firstborns (natural leaders, highly motivated to achieve, reliable, conscientious, perfectionists and don't like surprises).
President George W. Bush is the firstborn of three brothers. Sen. John Kerry is the second of four children.
Teresa Heinz Kerry has said, "Men with opinions are well informed and smart. But women with opinions are opinionated. If I didn't have opinions ... I couldn't have ... done what I have. I refuse to be categorized."
Once was the time the general public was largely ignorant of political wives. Not anymore. In fact, the political widow and heroine of a new Regency-era novel, "The Ideal Bride," is said to reflect the influence Mrs. Kerry, widow of Sen. John Heinz of Pennsylvania, has on husband John's political aspirations.
"(T) here is a potent correlation that can be made between the novel's heroine and Teresa Heinz Kerry," publisher William Morrow says of best-selling author Stephanie Laurens' soon-to-be-released book. The book's heroine is the widow of a legendary diplomat who finds herself facing the question of whether she wants to return to the political sphere by marrying another rising politician.
"Such considerations would doubtless have played a similar part in Teresa Heinz Kerry's life," agrees Laurens, who says then or now, when it comes to "influencing policy and the way policy is communicated, the input of an experienced political wife in such arenas is a constant that can be found behind most successful politicians."
UNCLE SAM CITED
For the first time in its history, or so it was announced recently on Capitol Hill, the United States is found guilty of "a major human rights violation."
An 11-year investigation by the Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States has just been completed, its ruling seized upon by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city's nonvoting representative in Congress.
What on earth did Uncle Sam do wrong?
"The commission concludes that the state has failed to justify the denials of the petitioners of the effective representation in their federal government and, consequently, that the petitioners have been denied an effective right to participate in their government, directly or through freely chosen representatives and in general conditions of equality, contrary to Articles XX and II of the American Declaration," says OAS.
The body, if you didn't guess, is referring to the denial of voting representation in Congress to approximately 600,000 residents of the District of Columbia.
Norton is not allowed to cast votes, even though her D.C. constituents rank second per capita in federal income taxes paid to support the U.S. government.
Seated atop the 2004 Washington "A List," as is tradition, are President and Mrs. Bush. Joining the first couple this year are 127 of Washington's most powerful party people - or at least those folks you'd like to have show up for your party.
"These people don't have to be extremely social, but if you walk into a party and they're there, then it's a good party," Nancy Bagley, editor in chief of Washington Life magazine, tells this column.
Compiled annually in a secret committee, this year's A List reveals the usual suspects - the die-hards of the Washington social scene - as well as a few newcomers. Making room for the new arrivals means others have to be dropped from the list, most notably this year former basketball star Michael Jordan.
On the other hand, Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and his wife, Vicky, could pack their bags, retire to Hyannis Port and they still wouldn't be erased from the list. Ditto for Ethel Kennedy and Eunice Kennedy Shriver.
Nor could one pry away Watergate editor Ben Bradlee and his socially conscious wife, Sally Quinn, Joe and Barbara Jean Allbritton, Mrs. Paul (Bunny) Mellon, Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan, Sen. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller IV, and Mr. and Mrs. Jack Valenti.
We should point out the 2004 list was finalized when every Democrat and his mother was running for the presidential nomination. This year's party roster, therefore, includes Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and wife Hadassah, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and wife Bitsey, and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry and wife Teresa.
Other notables include actor Robert Duvall (first year making the grade), former President Bill Clinton and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, and everybody's favorite survivor, Sen. John McCain.
SUING FOR CREDIT
For Valentine's Day, Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Consumer Freedom, sent George Washington University Law School professor John F. Banzhaf III a note saying that, "I'd like to send you a nice box of chocolates as a gift."
"I do this in spite of your absurd insistence that milk companies, diet food companies, pork farmers, school boards, fast-food restaurants, and perhaps, even Mom with her apple pie should be sued for facilitating the activity of enjoyable eating. You have done as much as anyone to make the United States the most litigious country in the world," Berman noted.
He enclosed a "Valentine's Day Chocolates Liability and Indemnification Agreement" - "so that I can be sure you won't sue me for providing you with a 'hazardous' gift or some such nonsense."