Almost Infamous

Posted February 26, 2007 at 6:52pm

We knew she was one of Capitol Hill’s very own. Antonella Barba, the Lounge 201 waitress-turned-“American Idol” finalist, has gone and gotten herself into a good, old-fashioned sex scandal.

Photos allegedly of the cocktail-slinging hottie have surfaced on (where else?) the Internet that are a little racier than even the usual before-they-were-minor-celebs cheesecake fare. [IMGCAP(1)]

How racy, you ask? Well, let’s just say that some of this stuff isn’t even Playboy fodder. Maybe not even Hustler material.

Even more offensive to Washington D.C.’s patriotic sensibilities, several of the tamer photos purport to show the 20-year-old Catholic University undergrad cavorting in what looks like the fountain of the World War II Memorial on the National Mall. Doesn’t she know that’s Greatest Generation’s turf?

Before said generation gets too upset, U.S. Park Police spokesman Lt. Scott Fear says he doubts the photos were actually taken at the memorial. “They haven’t been authenticated, and with computer technology, you can put anyone anywhere,” he says. And, he huffs, it wasn’t likely that anyone could stage a naughty nighttime photo shoot, since the memorial is patrolled by Park Police who surely would have put a stop to such shenanigans. But Fear helpfully notes that in D.C., it’s perfectly legal to bare one’s breasts, which HOH dutifully put in the “plus” column of life in the District (which almost outweighs that whole “Taxation Without Representation” thing).

While they’ve managed to cause quite a stir, it isn’t yet clear whether the photos are real or fake, and whether they would disqualify Barba from advancing in the “American Idol” competition. Barba is slated to sing Wednesday in the hopes of making it to the next level of the televised talent show. Calls to the Fox press folks weren’t returned, and Fox brass isn’t saying much publicly about the risqué pics.

And just like Barba’s, um, apparent best assets, her fan base isn’t sagging in the least. HOH reported Monday on the merry doings of the Lounge 201 crowd as they cheered on their gal Antonella. Lounge owner Matt Weiss says he and Barba’s co-workers are still in her corner.

Weiss said he, too, doubts some of the photos — particularly the seamier ones — are real. And even if they are, he says, most of them are clearly pictures from people’s private collections, not ones that she intended for public consumption. “Even if they’re real, they’re people’s private pictures,” he says.

Jealousy of the pretty — and suddenly famous — waitress may be motivation for faked pictures or for people posting those that were meant to be kept private, he speculates. “We’re real defensive here,” Weiss adds. “We don’t like seeing someone we know be defamed, especially when they’re doing something fantastic.” Welcome to Washington, Antonella.

What, Me Worry? After a grueling week in court as the defendant against felony charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, Scooter Libby probably needed to blow off some serious steam. We’re guessing that’s what the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney was doing Saturday night, when an HOH tipster spotted him at swanky Penn Quarter boîte Poste Brasserie.

With the jury still deliberating to determine if Libby lied to investigators looking into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity, a dressed-down, jeans-wearing Libby appeared relaxed, even jovial, according to our spy. He was accompanied by two “attractive, dark-haired” young women, who looked to be in their early 20s and “could have been sisters,” the HOH tipster dishes. The trio noshed on a cheese plate and sipped unidentified drinks. Libby hung around the restaurant’s back bar area for about 45 minutes before making an exit, after which the young beauties lingered a little longer.

Dingell Respects His Elders. Although House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) is older than Oscar himself, he’s still impressed with the honor. Dingell, who was just a little lad when 1927 war drama “Wings” (it wasn’t even a talkie!) took the very first Academy Award for Best Picture, dropped a note on Monday to his pal and former Veep Al Gore, after Gore took home the gold statuette for best documentary for his global-warming flick “An Inconvenient Truth.” “The Oscar is a tremendous accomplishment of which you should be proud,” Dingell wrote his former House colleague, who served with him on the Energy and Commerce panel. “But if we succeed in solving the climate challenge, the grandchildren of our grandchildren will not only know your name but will think of you as a hero for what you’ve done.”

Dingell discussed the Oscars with HOH, telling us he watched Gore accept the award but “wasn’t really interested” in the other winners. He also tells us he’s invited “Albert,” as he refers to Gore, to testify on global warming. “He very nearly won that race in Florida,” Dingell tells HOH. “It was good that he at least got this one.”

Isn’t that Mr. Oscar to you, Mr. Chairman?

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