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I Got You, Babe

Looks like the cat’s out of the bag on Cher’s late ex-husband’s widow and the dashing freshman Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.). Rumors have been swirling for weeks now about Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and Mack, both of whom recently filed for divorce from their spouses.

On Friday, a wire service had more nerve than HOH and printed the rumor that Bono and Mack are an item, something neither House Member denied. The Scripps Howard News Service reported that “romance may be in the air” for Bono and Mack, the son of former Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) and great-grandson of Baseball Hall of Famer Connie Mack (all of whose legal names are Cornelius McGillicuddy).[IMGCAP(1)]

Mack’s chief of staff, Jeff Cohen, told HOH on Monday that “Connie’s marriage was in trouble for a long time, which is why he filed for divorce in August. But beyond that, he doesn’t feel it’s appropriate to discuss his personal life.” Mack and his wife, Ann, have two children, ages 5 and 3.

Cohen did not deny that the hunky Congressman is seeing the fetching widow of one of America’s most famous pop-culture icons. Asked whether they are “dating” or “seeing each other,” Cohen said, “The statement stands for itself.”

Nor did Bono’s chief of staff, Frank Cullen, deny the rumored relationship. “Out of respect for what my boss is dealing with … I’m not going to comment on that situation or other aspects of her life,” he told HOH. He said he and the rest of Bono’s staff are “just trying to support her.”

Cullen said Bono and her husband, Glenn Baxley, a Western-wear designer and former farm-league baseball player, have “mutually agreed to separate and have this divorce proceeding move forward.” Bono, whose two children with the late singer are now 17 and 14, has been married to Baxley since November 2001. She filed for divorce last month. Her chief of staff described the couple’s break-up as “amicable.”

It seems that most folks in the Florida and California delegations are withholding judgment, at least publicly, on whatever is going on between the Congressman and Congresswoman. But one freshman Member expressed disappointment with his classmate, saying through his spokesman, “When you got two kids, it’s just not worth it.”

Money, Money, Money! Are you one of those House staffers whose paycheck amounts have miraculously fluctuated wildly over the last couple of months? You’re not alone. And the “powers that be” claim help is on the way.

At least 100 aides have been the “beneficiaries” of a new payroll system that, let’s just say, ain’t working so well.

A glitch in some new software has rendered some staffers’ paychecks hundreds of dollars short one month and hundreds of dollars over salary the next.

One House Democratic staffer told HOH that her August paycheck was $300 above pay. (Yay!) But the next month’s paycheck was a couple hundred dollars short. (Yikes.)

She became so frustrated that she visited the House payroll office to find out what was up first-hand. She and two other aides waited for help while the chief administrative officer and staff tried frantically to solve the problem. “They were all worried and upset, trying to figure something out,” she said.

Indeed, the House Administration Committee and its chairman, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), are working with the chief administrative officer to fix the not-so-trivial error.

Ney spokesman Brian Walsh told HOH that the CAO’s staff is “personally contacting each and every one of the affected staff members and working with each of them on a case-by-case basis to resolve it, whether they were overpaid or underpaid.”

It’s unclear when exactly affected House aides — especially the young’uns who live paycheck to paycheck — will get their money back, or see their money taken away. But Walsh said that the committee, the CAO and Ney personally are working expeditiously to make it so.

Walsh added that while the new system has been “largely successful … a few limited errors have occurred.”

Uh yeah, we’ll say.

From Foggy Bottom to Stars Hollow. Yet another former government official is heeding the siren song of Hollywood. This time, it’s former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who’s making her TV acting debut on the WB Network’s hit drama “Gilmore Girls.”

The episode featuring Albright is called “Twenty-One is the Loneliest Number” and is scheduled to air one week from today at 8 p.m. The Czech-born former top American diplomat said she had a “great time” doing the show and that “I learned how hard it is to memorize those lines.”

The uber-hip WB Television Network, the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” currently features the fifth seasons of “Reba” and “Smallville,” among others, in addition to the sixth season of “Gilmore Girls.”

The show’s executive producer, Amy Sherman-Palladino, said of her new star: “If you think she seems brilliant and sassy strutting around the Middle East, you should try talking to her in person. We are very honored, very lucky, and sooo not worthy.”

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.

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