I wasn't there, as I was manning the Starr Hot Line over the weekend, in case the prosecutor decided to subpoena somebody's mother to appear in front of the grand jury. But my friend Arnie Flagg was.

If anyone thinks that Washington is not an exciting town, they should have attended last Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner for 2,599 newspaper people and their guests. I wasn't there, as I was manning the Starr Hot Line over the weekend, in case the prosecutor decided to subpoena somebody's mother to appear in front of the grand jury. But my friend Arnie Flagg was.He called breathlessly, "You should have been there. There was electricity in the room."

"Because the president and Hillary were there?" I asked.

"No, because Paula Jones was there."

"I can't believe it. You were in the same room with Paula Jones?"

"I was eight tables away from her. Everyone in the place was trying to get a look at her. I never saw so many newspaper reporters go ape."

"I wish I had been there. What makes her the biggest celebrity in Washington?"

Arnie said, "She appealed her case. She used up Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame, and now she has bought another 15."

"Who invited her?"

"Paul Rodriguez, the editor of Insight, a right-wing publication, who doesn't like President Clinton very much. Rodriguez was quoted on a talk show in California as saying, `If he's guilty, shoot the SOB and shoot him quick; we want him out.' The Secret Service didn't like that, and they're investigating him. But since he talked Paula Jones into coming to the dinner, Gordon Liddy has forgiven him."

"Did they ask Paula to speak?"

"No, they were afraid she might break down like people do on the Academy Awards."

"Did she get a standing ovation?"

"I don't think so, though heaven knows she deserved one from this crowd. Her charges have kept many Washington correspondents employed."

"What did the president do?"

"I don't think he shook hands with Paula. Which makes sense, since they're legally at odds."

"Do you think Hillary wanted to tear Paula's hair out?"

"Probably. But I believe she promised Bill she would behave herself."

"It's amazing how star-struck reporters in Washington can be. One last question: Is Paula as beautiful in real life as she is on television?"

"Not only that, she's a national treasure."

Los Angeles Times Syndicate