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Booger Pickin’ and Space Suits

Democrats waited about a nanosecond to retaliate against Republicans for releasing a photo of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) looking like a goofball in a space suit at Cape Canaveral, Fla. Democratic operatives Tuesday unearthed a 1990 videotape of President Bush — then merely a trust-fund rancher and baseball team mogul — at Nolan Ryan’s “300th win” Texas Rangers game.

“A deep, long pick,” is how one Democratic

operative described what Bush was doing in the video. A frame-grab picture of the video, however, was too blurry to reproduce here. But the operatives said they were providing the video to at least one television network.

“What better way is there to highlight how frivolous a debate the Republicans were trying to ‘pick,’ so to speak,” said another Democratic insider. “We decided that before we got up into our wrists and escalated this sticky exchange further, we’d stop with just this one moment and hope this silliness just blows over.”

The picture of Kerry published in tabloids showed him playing astronaut, along with derogatory stories. The Boston Herald put the image on its cover, with a headline that dubbed the soon-to-be-anointed nominee “Bubble Boy.”

Franken vs. Hannity. Conventions do make for strange bedfellows, especially with all the Republicans running around at the Democratic convention. For 25 beautiful minutes on Radio Row Tuesday afternoon, conservative talker Sean Hannity was the featured guest on liberal gabber Al Franken’s Air America radio show.

Right out of the gate, the two fought over whether Franken actually likes Hannity.

“You really don’t like me,” Hannity said.

“I like you.”

“You like me just ‘cause I’m sitting across from you.”

Taking a quick shot at Hannity, Franken let his audience in on a secret: Playgirl magazine — mostly read by “boyz” instead of girls — has rated Hannity one of its sexiest broadcasters on TV.

For the next 20 minutes they duked it out, talking over each other in front of a crowd of gawkers that grew to a couple dozen. They fought over everything from the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to Hannity’s claims in 1999 that Bill Clinton lacked the “moral authority” to wage war in Kosovo.

But the true essence of their argument was which of them is a liar — and how big a liar. One of their longstanding tiffs is over whether Franken was kicked out of the Fox News Channel’s green room and escorted from the building after a fight the two had some years ago.

“You’re lying through your teeth,” Hannity said.

“We had a screaming match,” Franken said, implying it was no big deal.

“No, you screamed, I walked away.”

The gabfest turned uglier when the talk focused on the war in Iraq, and Franken, who has done United Service Organization shows for troops in Afghanistan, questioned Hannity’s commitment to the troops: “How many USO shows have you done?”

“None,” Hannity said.

“You don’t have the talent,” Franken shot back.

“That was mean and personal,” Hannity said.

When the 25-minute, no-commercial segment ended, Franken asked to be invited on Hannity’s WABC radio show. “Any time,” Hannity said, smiling, before thinking better of it.

“Well, I’ll think about it.” To which Franken responded, “He’s very popular among the gay male population.”

Franken vs. Coleman. As if the Franken-Hannity fireworks weren’t enough to make Radio Row light up, Franken missed a chance to take a first-hand shot at a real political rival: Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), who was on hand to do some GOP counterspin.

Franken, who is considering returning home to his native Minnesota to run against Coleman in 2008, never spoke to Coleman. In fact, the two never acknowledged each other’s presence, even though they were about 30 feet apart.

But when Franken was asked about his potential opponent, he didn’t shy away from taking a shot at Coleman. “They’re sending him up here to call Kerry a flip-flopper,” he said. “Isn’t that great?”

Coleman was just as quick to return fire. Explaining why he didn’t say hello to Franken, who now lives in New York, Coleman said, “He’s not a Minnesotan, he’s not a voter, he’s not one of my constituents,” Coleman said.

Franken conceded later he’s not a registered voter in Minnesota. But still, he couldn’t resist taking the last shot at the Brooklyn-born Senator who now resides in St. Paul.

“If I do run against him, I’ll be the only New York Jew in the race who was raised in Minnesota,” Franken said.

Pelosi, a Hot Ticket. Rocker-cum-political activist Bono, speaking at a House Democratic Caucus breakfast Tuesday, said House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is “a great leader.” And, he said, “she’s sexy.”

Also Hot. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) was giving it up for the ladies at his hip-hop heavy Rock the Vote party Monday night at Boston’s Avalon dance club. Ford was seen on a packed and pumping dance floor getting down with three ladies at once — two brunettes … and his mother, who was easily one of the best and most agile dancers in a club full of twentysomethings.

Fox Out-Booed on Convention Floor. It seemed like an non-controversial request at first. On Monday evening at the Fleet Center, between endless orations by politicos, the organizers of the Democratic National Convention took a brief time out to take the official panoramic photograph of the convention floor.

A woman on a loudspeaker, doing her version of “say cheese,” directed delegates in the packed convention hall to turn and face a large digital clock hung on the wall of the arena, so the picture could capture their faces and not just the back of their heads. But a picture-perfect moment it was not. The woman on the PA system pointed out that the clock is “over there” by the booth of Fox 25 News — a local Boston affiliate that is a corporate cousin of the network that has inspired so much ire among Democrats, including these delegates. As soon as the woman said the word “Fox,” the arena erupted in a chorus of boos so loud one would think she had just called for four more years of George W. Bush.

Hope Rupert Murdoch has someone to watch his back if he goes on the floor!

D.C. Statehood Heckler. The issue of D.C. statehood rose to the level of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, in a manner of speaking. People for the American Way, Ralph Neas’ group, was holding a serious forum at the Boston Marriott Copley on the future of the Highest Court in the Land (and the need to elect a Democratic president in order to put more liberals on the bench).

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, got up to rally the sleepy troops. “Aren’t you excited?!” he said, trying to energize what looked to be a pretty hungover bunch.

But the only response heard from the audience was from a gray-haired woman who started playing “Reveille” on a trumpet.

“Oh, what state are you from?” Conyers politely asked.

“Washington, D.C.,” she said. “Mr. Congressman, don’t forget about D.C. sovereignty.”

Conyers’ smile faded into a sigh, and he looked annoyed as he told the gathering, “She gets my schedule and follows me around.”

That “she” is the unmistakable Faith, Washington’s perennial mayoral candidate who told HOH, “I was formerly known as Faith Dane. I’m just Faith now.” The 81-year-old mayoral candidate formerly known as Faith Dane also asked, “How do you like my figure?” Strong and remarkably muscular for her age, HOH thought.

“I do ballet every day. You write that down,” Faith said. “Those people on the Hill outta know something about me.” OK, so now they know. She’s a good-looking old lady who toots her own horn.

Sex in the Convention. Cynthia Nixon, formerly of the HBO show “Sex and the City,” was spotted Tuesday morning working on her new show for the cable network.

The whole life-imitating-art-imitating-life thing may have gone a bit too far. She’s starring in the reincarnation of “Tanner ’88” in which she plays a documentary filmmaker making a film of the 2004 presidential campaign.

Nixon, who played Miranda, a feisty red-headed lawyer on “Sex and City,” is now a blonde. She was filming scenes Tuesday morning outside the Fleet Center. She was walking up and down the walkway, doing several takes for a scene in the show, which is due to air in October.

HOH wanted to talk to Nixon, but a handler said she was too busy.

Paul Kane, Louis Jacobson, Amy Keller and John Bresnahan contributed to this report.