Last week, sizzling TV couple Jeremy Hubbard and Taunia Hottman took their parting shots at Kansas City as they prepared to leave town for jobs at stations in Denver.
This meat patty had always appreciated Hottman's role as peppy yet vapid host for KMCI Channel 38's Simpsons and That 70s Show reruns, for which she provided unintentionally comedic station breaks. (The Strip especially enjoyed Hottman's habit of taking pity on Simpsons characters by pointing out how much better her lot in life was.) But with her departure imminent, Hottman turned a little mean in her last appearances, dissing members of her viewing audience who had dared to send her negative mail. She even blasted one critical viewer by name and sniffed that she, at least, had a television show. So there.
Her hunky husband, Hubbard, took pot shots of his own. The spiky-haired KMBC Channel 9 anchor roasted several local media figures on his final radio show at KCTE 1510 last Friday. He reserved special ire for the Strip's colleague, Night Ranger, who outed Hubbard last year as a boor. Hubbard had told the Night Ranger -- also known as Jen Chen -- that he'd help her review metro night spots but then kept standing her up. Apparently, he had some pent-up resentment about the way Chen subsequently printed some of his lame-excuse-filled e-mails.
Chen and this porterhouse were both listening and thought Hubbard's rant was funny. After all, turnabout is fair play. But things got a little nasty when the phone rang in the 1510 booth and Hubbard panicked, assuming he was about to get dressed down.
"Was that Jen Chen? Was it?" he squealed like a girlie man. (The Night Ranger had not called.)
"Yeah, that was her," answered Hubbard's producer and toady Matt Wilson, who then affected a bad Asian accent and said, "Me likey Jeremy Hubbard!"
The Night Ranger herself didn't take offense -- she's too cool for that. But after further reflection, Wilson realized he might have crossed a line.
"It was in poor taste, and I probably shouldn't have done it," the producer tells this chuck roast.
Regrets, regrets. For her own part, Chen has none. Though she once admitted to a distant celebrity crush on Hubbard, she's long since moved on. The Strip has learned that Wizards midfielder Stephen Armstrong is now among those catching her eye.
He Knows Dick
Almost as soon as former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke unclipped his microphone on the set of 60 Minutes, George W. Bush's lackeys started hitting back hard. What else could they do? Clarke had kicked them where it hurt, claiming that Bush blew significant opportunities to prevent al Qaeda attacks and, after 9/11, cynically exploited the deaths of thousands of Americans to launch a pre-emptive and unjust war. Bush, Clarke claimed, was a failure in the fight against terrorism -- the very thing Bush is hoping will get him re-elected.
Among the insults Bushies have been hurling at Clarke is one based on a nugget unearthed from right here in Kansas City: that Clarke gave $2,000 to the campaign trust of Jamie Metzl, who's running in the Democratic primary for the Missouri 5th District congressional seat to be vacated by Karen McCarthy.
"Clarke donates like a Democrat," noted Chicago Sun-Times columnist and presidential suckup Robert Novak on March 28. Clarke's only other political contribution was to Steven Andreasen, a Dem who lost in a race for Congress in Minnesota in 2002.
"Dick is supporting me because we're close, personal friends," Metzl tells this hamloaf. When Metzl worked as a White House fellow in 1997 and 1998, he worked directly under Clarke.
After that, Metzl left for a State Department job coordinating a propaganda program that Clarke designed and aimed at unfriendly countries. Later, in 2003, Metzl worked with Clarke on a report issued by the Council on Foreign Relations that revealed how the nation's police and firefighting forces are underfunded and unprepared for another major terrorist attack. Today, Metzl is an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's law school. (Andreasen, meanwhile, also has ties to Clarke's career in national security; he headed arms-control policy for the National Security Council during the Clinton years.)
"I'm outraged," Metzl says of the attacks on Clarke, whom he calls a mentor. "Rather than address the critical questions that Dick Clarke has raised, the Bush administration has instead chosen to engage in the empty excercise of personal character assassination."
Not surprisingly, Metzl had nothing but good things to say about the man who helped him rise quickly inside the Beltway. He calls Clarke "one of the most dedicated, brilliant and patriotic civil servants to have served in public office."
That said, he's not surprised to see his old boss in the middle of a Washington hornet's nest. "In Washington, it's often said that in order to survive, you have to kiss up and piss down," Metzl says. In other words, be loyal to your higher ups while you shit on the little people. But Clarke, Metzl says, always got things the other way around.
"Dick Clarke pisses up and kisses down."