D.C. Buzz

updated 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Like many budding baby boomers. Bill Clinton spent a lot of time watching TV cartoons. So it came as no surprise that, as President, he entertained 80-year-old Chuck. Jones, a creator of Bugs Bunny, in the Oval Office for nearly an hour last month. But, Clinton confided, it was another Warner Bios, cartoon that gave him solace during his rocky first days in office, when he empathized with the hapless co-star of the Road Runner cartoons. "I often feel like Wile E. Coyote," said the President, "trying to achieve the impossible."


During the last three elections. Robert Burnett, a self-described "partisan Democrat," helped his party's candidates prepare for the presidential and vice presidential debates by playing the part of George Bush in rehearsal. Perhaps the recurring role brought out in Barnett a certain latent sympathy for the GOP Now the lawyer, a partner at the prestigious firm of Williams & Connolly, is the hottest literary agent in Washington—negotiating generous contracts for major Republican clients.

His recent clients include former Vice President Dan Quayle and former Secretary of State James Baker, as well as Bush press secretary Marlin Fitzwater. Barnett also sold a joint book this February In that improbable political duo, Mary Malalin. President Bush's tart-tongued campaign aide, and Democratic strategist James Carville, now an informal Clinton adviser, for a reported $900,000.

The high-profile clients come to Barnett, 46, in part because he doesn't charge as much as most agents. Instead of taking the usual 10-to 15-percent commission, he bills $400 an hour—a significant savings when big deal-are cut. One client—he won't say who—just got $2.3 million for a book. "An agent would lave charged about $350,000," Barnett says. "My bill was $23,000."

What's in a Secret Service code name? Nothing—that is, officially—since the service claims they are randomly chosen. But one sometimes does wonder what agents have in mind. Ronald Reagan, for example, was "Rawhide." George Bush was "Tirnberwolf," while golf nut Dan Quayle was known as "Scorecard." Bill Clinton is respectfully called "Eagle." The famously wooden Al Gore was once "Sawhorse." In 1988 there was a flap when then candidate Jesse Jackson picked up the name "Ponliac." (Some pundits thought the moniker was racist.) So, we ask, what does it mean that the Secret Service has given presidential brother Roger Clinton the code name "Headache"?

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