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National Perspective | WASHINGTON INSIGHT

March 04, 1998|From The Times Washington Bureau

PRECEDENT BREAKER: Having already established herself as the first attorney general in history to live above a Tapas bar, Janet Reno is only two months shy of becoming the second-longest serving A.G. in the 20th century. And if she holds onto the post eight months more, she'll bump President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first attorney general, Homer Cummings, who served five years and 10 months, for the No. 1 spot. But not even Reno has much chance of topping the all-time record of 11 years and three months set by Atty. Gen. William Wirt. By the time Wirt left office in March 1829, he had served Presidents James Monroe, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson--and just missed seeing Strom Thurmond get elected to the Senate.

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ON THE SLOPES: Utah is so solidly Republican that President Clinton didn't visit the state during his first five years in office. Only last week, at the urging of first daughter Chelsea, did the Clintons travel to Park City, Utah. On a walkabout of the resort city's Main Street, Clinton let it be known that he understood he was less than popular there. So, when deli owner Barbara Lindbloom told the decaf-drinking Clinton she had voted for him, he was quick to offer thanks. With a smile, Lindbloom added that "it's hard in Utah" to support a Democratic president. "Hazardous to your health out here," Clinton nodded. But one hazard Clinton was unwilling to take. While Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea took to the slopes, he holed up in the luxurious slope-side home of Jeffrey Katzenberg, a founder of DreamWorks SKG studio. Although Chelsea's skiing form won rave reviews, the president admitted he had flunked out of ski school on a family trip when he was governor of Arkansas.

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ON THE DIAL: The No. 1-requested song at Washington's WHFS radio is "Monica's Playground," a spoof on the sex controversy swirling around the president. The singer impersonates Clinton's Arkansas drawl and croons about an "Oval Office affair" with an intern named Monica. Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and Hillary also are featured in the rather lurid ditty ("sex is dandy," goes the chorus). The station's in-house production--a spin-off of Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy"--also is a big hit with college stations.

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FAMILY MAN: Former Rep. Mel Levine (D-Los Angeles), now a bicoastal lawyer, has been spending more and more time in Southern California. With El Nino raining down, it's not because of the weather. And, contrary to speculation, it's not because he's planning to run for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Torrance) as she runs for governor. It's his kids, stupid. "I love going to their baseball games, their field hockey games and school plays. I'm not ready to give that up yet," Levine said of his 16-year-old son and 14-year-old twins (one of each), who attend the Harvard-Westlake school. "It's really a family matter more than a political matter."

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THE HERMAN-ATOR HE'S NOT: Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas) came back from a visit to Lake Placid, N.Y.'s new Olympic training center without a medal around his neck--and with a brace on his wrist. Daredevil Dreier tested the toboggan run, played ice hockey and whipped around the speed skating track. Preparing for the bobsled, he accepted a challenge to try the aptly named "skeleton run." Speeding down the zig-zag trail face-first, Dreier bounced off a wall, which left him with bad bruises on his wrist and knee. Then he called it a day. "I've been training my whole life for it," he said. "They said I looked like a pinball machine."

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