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Montana Republicans: Sober in Kazakhstan

The mysterious e-mail claimed that Rehberg broke three ribs. Rehberg told us he only broke one. White said the Congressman cracked two ribs. Suffice it to say, Rehberg got hurt.

As for the mysterious e-mail’s claim that Rehberg made fun of the Kazakh “national costume doing a ‘Coneheads’ routine from Saturday Night Live, over and over (including making beeping sounds like an alien),” Col. White insisted: “Never happened.”

Aibek Nurbalin, from the Kazakh Embassy, who attended yesterday’s meeting, said Burns and Rehberg “were just sipping vodka” as is customary at ceremonial state dinners in Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh ambassador, Kanat Saudabayev, released a statement on Tuesday saying: “The Republic of Kazakhstan is pleased” with the results of the visit from Burns and Rehberg, especially the signing of a “memorandum of understanding between the Almaty State University and the University of the State of Montana.”

“At the same time,” the ambassador says, “we repudiate completely anonymous accounts of Rep. Rehberg’s unfortunate accident. The accident did indeed take place in the way Rep. Rehberg has described it, and we wish him speedy recovery.”

“It’s nothing more than character assassination,” argued Erik Iverson, Rehberg’s chief of staff. He said his office, together with Burns’ office, are still investigating the true origin of the e-mail but so far, Iverson said, they’ve been told that “it did not originate with anybody at the State Department or the U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan who were part of the trip.”

While their investigation is underway, the Montana Democratic Party has issued a Freedom of Information Act request to the State Department asking for all documents, e-mails and other communications about the May 2004 trip.

A Match Made on the Gridiron? In a quarterback sneak, National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.) was on his way to Chicago Tuesday night to meet with legendary ex-Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka about the possibility of calling an end run in the Illinois Senate race.

That would be the same George Allen who is the son of the legendary late football coach who was an assistant when Ditka played for the Bears. Think there will be any football discussed?

Ditka, who now keeps busy with a variety of activities that includes being a pitchman for the erection drug Levitra, is reportedly considering jumping into the Senate race, as desperate Republicans search for an unheralded draft pick to replace Jack Ryan, who took himself out of the game late last month.

According to sources, Allen is not going to blitz Ditka with pleadings to run, and there is no announcement imminent. He is simply traveling as a courtesy, to feel Ditka out, and to determine whether Da Coach, like Walter Payton eluding tacklers, can break free of his myriad contractual commitments should he choose to enter the political arena.

Right now, state Sen. Barack Obama (D) is the odds-on favorite to replace retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.). Some football teams like to be the underdog, of course.

In Ditka, the GOP would get a huge celebrity who could raise a lot of money quickly.

Shootin’ Hoops With I.A., T-Mac et al. The usual Saturday pickup game of middle-aged white guys at the downtown L.A. Sports Club got a little more challenging last weekend.

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