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Outfoxing ‘Outfoxed’

Fox News Senior Producer Jim Mills sent a gift basket of movie-themed goodies to the Congressional hosts of last night’s private screening of “Outfoxed,” the new film by Robert Greenwald that accuses the network of unadulterated conservative bias from the top down. The private viewing was hosted by Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Loaded with popcorn, M&Ms, Oreo cookies, Skittles, Starburst, you name it — the big red basket was delivered with this loving note attached from Mills, who, undoubtedly, was not invited to the premiere:

“Dear Mr. Sanders, Mr. Greenwald, & Mr. [John] Podesta,

“Thank you very much for your kind invitation to attend this evening’s showing of Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism. I truly — and I am not kidding — would like to see the film, but cannot attend this evening.

“In some small, small way I hope this goodie basket — to be shared with those attending tonight’s screening, will more than make up for my absence.

“Cordially,

Jim Mills

Senior Producer

Fox News/Capitol Hill”

Mills told HOH: “I got a little bothered at first [that they were showing this in the Capitol], but then as I thought about it, I said, ‘Screw it. This is America. If this guy wants to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars making a film taking a swipe at Fox — I can handle that.’”

Move Over, Joan Rivers. Remember Phyllis Diller’s smoky, whiskey-laced laugh? Her wild costumes and zany antics? Anyone up for a big dose of that during convention coverage this summer?

A New York public relations agent named Jeff Barge has been tirelessly flacking the idea to TV networks. In a recent letter to network executives, Barge pimped the “First Lady of Laughter” to provide “wacky coverage” of both the Democratic and Republican conventions.

A la Joan Rivers’ Hollywood-style coverage of the conventions in 2000, Barge told HOH that Diller — who was born in 1917 (HOH can’t even count that high) — could give the nets some hilarious commentary, such as “Phyllis speculating perhaps on a constitutional amendment prohibiting divorce.”

“There is lots of good material there,” he said, “including Lynne Cheney’s lesbian pioneer novel.” (He was referring to Cheney’s 1981 novel “Sisters,” whose themes, as described by the New York Times, included “Sapphic love in the Wild West.” One passage read: “The women who embraced in the wagon were Adam and Eve crossing a dark cathedral stage — no, Eve and Eve, loving one another as they would not be able to once they ate of the fruit and knew themselves as they truly were.”)

Barge indicated it might be too late for Diller to do anything in Boston, although he said there was talk early on of her pairing with Ron Reagan Jr., who now, it turns out, will be speaking at the Democratic convention. “He would make a great straight man for her!” Barge said, meaning that Reagan, who is married with kids, is “very calm and Phyllis is very antic.”

But it’s still possible we’ll see Diller doing commentary at the Republican convention, he insisted. “Phyllis has been making a comeback recently,” he said. She has a big role in an indie film called “The Last Place on Earth,” which is scheduled to premiere in New York later this summer. (It’s far from funny, though; the film is about a woman dying of cancer.)

Diller also has an autobiography due out next year. It’s called “Like a Lampshade In a Whore House.”

Barge hasn’t sealed a deal with any of the nets, although he still holds out a glimmer of hope for Boston. He says the Boston bureau of CNN showed some interest, as did CBS’ the “Early Show.”

“So it still might be alive,” he said.

Hoosier Favorite Indianan? As if Democrats and Republicans didn’t have enough to fight about already. Now comes the “big debate” over what to call folks from Indiana: Hoosiers or Indianans.

The squabble started with a know-it-all press release fired off by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee making fun of its GOP counterpart — or nemesis — the National Republican Congressional Committee for describing voters in Indiana as “Indianans.”

In its press release, the DCCC wrote up a mock pop quiz that said: What do you call a resident of Indiana? a. Indianan; b. Texan; c. Hoosier; d. Kentuckian.

Underneath it said, “If you answered a., you’re wrong and probably work in Washington, DC for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).”

The DCCC’s press release was in response to NRCC spokesman Carl Forti saying that Democratic Indiana House candidate Jon Jennings has nothing in common with “Indianans.”

DCCC Communications Director Kori Bernards got personal in the press release, saying maybe Forti should watch the movie “Hoosiers” so he and other Republicans “can learn a little more about Indiana before they attack Jon Jennings again.”

Forti fired right back, saying maybe Bernards should get a dictionary and look up “Indianans” — which is, indeed, a listing in Webster’s for a person born or living in Indiana.

“I’d recommend looking up Indianan and then synonym,” Forti said, adding, with, oh, just a tinge of condescension, “Synonyms are different words that mean the same thing. An example: DCCC chances of taking back the House are remote. Synonyms: slight, unlikely, improbable, small.”

Hard to beat that comeback! But sorry, Carl, a bipartisan poll conducted by HOH shows folks in Indiana don’t call themselves Indianans. Sandy Stewart, a staff assistant in the Evansville, Ind., office of Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), says: “Usually Hoosier, at least in the southern part of the state. But I worked in Indianapolis for years and most people said Hoosier.”

Agreed, says Larry Ordner, in the Evansville office of Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.). “I have never in my life heard that term. You may say ‘resident of Indiana.’ But I have never heard ‘Indianan.’”

And the book “What Do You Call A Person From…?” says a person from Indiana is to be called a Hoosier. “Despite the intensity of the Hoosier lobby,” the book says, “the term Indianan still shows up in print, although it is usually followed by a letter to the publication in question asserting, as did a letter to the Washington Post, that there is no such word as ‘Indianan.’”

Ivins Lashing. Texas liberal columnist Molly Ivins was in town this week selling and signing copies of her new book “Who Let the Dogs In.” The saucy Austin-based columnist spent part of her Sunday afternoon entertaining about 50 members of JAWS, the Journalism and Women’s Symposium, cracking ‘em up with one-liners about the 2004 campaign.

Ivins said the home state she reluctantly shares with President Bush is so safely red, “this election might as well be happening on Mars.” And, asked about an ethics complaint pending against another of her favorite subjects of abuse, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Ivins quipped: “DeLay is about to be indicted for breaking Texas campaign finance laws. And we don’t have any!”