Overheard at cancer benefit

It was a case of sticker shock for Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich and wife Kendel when they arrived at Bergdorf Goodman late Monday for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation benefit.

"A thousand dollar pocketbook is ... an interesting concept," said the Republican, who "almost had a heart attack" when he saw his wife browsing.

"We are very cost-conscious," Kendel offered. "Government salaries."

Bo Derek, Ben Stein, former White House mouthpiece Ari Fleischer and — ah, youth — just-Bar Mitzvahed "Jerry Maguire" kid Jonathan Lipnicki were on hand.

Ben Stein, amazingly, kvetched about "never being able to get a good meal" in Manhattan.

Manhattan-born, Westchester-raised Fleischer pooh-poohed Stein's snobbishness, extolling the virtues of "the little Hungarian pastry store on 86th and Broadway" he frequented as a kid.

"Now I'm a fan of Capital Grille," he said.

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If they'd let him back in the White House — and trust us, they won't — Ron Reagan knows what he'd say to President George W. Bush.

"I'd ask him whether the innocent Iraqis who have died under our bombs — the men, women, children and babies — are, in his mind, going to heaven. His answer to that, I think, would be very revealing. I'd also talk to him about stem cell research."

Reagan, calling the Essex House home this week while contributing to "Hardball with Chris Matthews," was at the Kenneth Cole store in Rockefeller Center talking up "If You Had Five Minutes with the President," a celeb essay collection for which he contributed the foreward.

He was joined by fellow scribes like Hallie Eisenberg and Joe Pantoliano.

The 46-year-old son of the late president, a one-time dancer in New York, has often invited the wrath of Republican hardliners, most recently for outspoken comments about faith he made delivering his father's eulogy. His father, he said, "never made the fatal mistake of so many politicians: wearing his faith on his sleeve to gain political advantage."

"Some people took exception to that, thinking I was talking about a certain current president," Reagan said. "I just needed to absorb my father's death, but I didn't really have the opportunity to do so."

He says his mother Nancy has no problem with his outspokenness.

"She's just a proud mom," he says. "She's not thinking politically."

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When last we left winsome gubernatorial progeny Emily Pataki, she was stalking the Bush daughters across Roseland as correspondent for Extra. She's landed another big "get," as they say in the biz.

"I haven't met you before, but you're doing a great job," said Gov. George Pataki, when his eldest kid cornered him with her camera crew. "Miss, would you like an advance copy of my speech?"

The duo arrived at Cipriani for a joint New York/New Jersey delegation bash as the clock struck midnight Monday. Guests snacked on pizza and sausages, while men dressed as Uncle Sam and Abe Lincoln wandered about on stilts. Aged Midwestern delegates bopped around to Rick Springfield's "Jesse's Girl."

Emily wore a black skirt, black stilettos and a lavender skirt from Theory. We didn't ask George what he wore.

"The producers said I should just go with it and act as if he wasn't my father," Emily said of her Extra exclusive.

"I haven't seen her on tape yet, but I know she gave me a tough grilling," said her dad.

Sharon Bridbord contributed to this column.

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