Does Babs Have Soul? Ask Dubya

Normally, I don't go back to the same well week after week, so George W. Bush should be safe for a while. But did you see what Bush said after his recent meeting with Russia's President Vladimir "Ras" Putin? Bush met with Putin for 90 minutes and declared the former KGB agent a righteous dude. Bush explained, "I was able to get a sense of his soul."

See, right there is proof of the high quality of a Yale education. All Bush needed was 90 minutes to go metaphysical. Imagine if he'd hung out with Putin the whole afternoon. We all might be levitating. What's next, the Vulcan mind meld?

I'm delighted that Bush could peer into Putin's soul. Maybe he was like Woody Allen, who said he once was charged with plagiarism on a metaphysics exam because he'd peered into the soul of the student next to him.

I'm curious about the size of Putin's soul. How much soul does he have? More than, say, Sam & Dave? More than Luther Vandross? Barry White? As a kid growing up in the Soviet Union, did his homeys say to Vladimir, "What it is , bro?"

(I interrupt this column to bring you this item. I quote from the wire service account: "Viagra has been banned from greyhound racing in Ireland after reports that it can make dogs run faster by speeding up their heart rate." Like my friend Denis says, "Man, if they catch that rabbit now, watch out!")

I hope I'm not the only one besides Crazy Ol' Jesse Helms who finds it uncomfortable that the president of our United States meets with an elite commie spy for an hour and a half and pronounces him "honest, straightforward and trustworthy." I mean, it's one thing for Bush to get out of a meeting with Putin and say, "I met with Mr. Putin, and we reached consensus on a wide range of aims.

True, we still have some serious cultural issues to bridge. Like that hideous beet soup the Rooskies eat. One swallow of that slop, and I'm all over Mr. Putin like my daddy was all over the prime minister of Japan a few years back. But on a personal level, Vlad's my dawg; ya know what I'm sayin', boyyyyyee."

But for Bush to say, "I was able to get a sense of his soul." Excuse me--who did we elect president, Shirley MacLaine?

Of course, the president wasn't the only one with unexpected insight this week. A check of Barbra Streisand's Web site revealed that America's Diva is urging Californians to conserve energy by hanging their wash out to dry on a clothesline.

Let me ask you something: You think Barbra Streisand hangs her wash on a clothesline? Are you crazy? Babs pinning up bras and panties? With those nails? Bite your tongue.

She has people (who need people) to do her wash. (They're the luckiest people in the world.) The closest Babs ever gets to a line of clothes is Versace. Barbra Streisand couldn't find the washing machine in her own house without a Coast Guard search and rescue operation. She thinks All Temperature Cheer is what she gets when she steps on stage at Caesars Palace when the A.C. is on the blink.

Barbra probably hasn't done a load of wash in 30 years. It's a misty watercolor memory of the way she was. I'm betting it's in the pre-nup that James Brolin does her wash. That's why he's hawking Flex-a-Min, for when his muscles ache from ironing and folding.

Come on, close your eyes and imagine Barbra Streisand measuring the liquid Tide, ha ha ha. This is how Babs saves energy on her laundry: She wears something once--then throws it away.

Like these famous actresses in Malibu would hang their wash out on a line to dry. Like they'd string the clothesline between houses. Like one day Babs will lean out her window and call to Cher: "Hey, girlfriend, your wash looks great! Your thongs look so bright. What's your secret? How do you get your whites so white? And your plumage so, um, ploomy?"

Like that'll happen.

If word got out that babes like Angelina Jolie and Catherine Zeta-Jones were hanging their wash out to dry? It would give new meaning to the phrase "panty raid." They'd have to post an "Armed Response" sign next to the Clorox.

By the way, I love Babs' Web site. She posts her political tracts, like "Dick Cheney's Record," "Last Minute Thoughts Before the Election" and "10 Republicans I Would Boink Even Though They Vote to Make Us Dependent on Fossil Fuel." (OK, I made that one up.) But she actually does have political tracts.

In "A Call to Conserve," she talks about how to reduce energy consumption: "Only run your dishwasher when it is fully loaded, and air-dry your dishes instead of using the dry cycle. Turn off appliances and lights when they are not in use.... Seal and caulk doors and windows that leak." What kind of language is that? Is Barbra Streisand channeling the Maytag Repairman?

By the way, Babs' Web site also has signature stuff you can buy: Streisand soup mugs, with her name in script; limited-edition Streisand champagne; Babs' portrait in Lucite.

I'm holding out for a "Presidential Edition" glimpse of her soul.

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