CICCONE BUNCH Jessica, Madonna (inset)
• Wowie-zowie, another Malawi: Still-not-Angelina, Madonna may be trying to adopt another African orphan, if she can edge out a worried Australian couple. Said Malawi's Minister of Child Welfare: "Her first choice, before David, was a baby girl called Jessica Kondanani"—who was found abandoned in a bush. So on top of all of the legal hassles and bad press of the past month—which are about to repeat—David Banda gets labeled second banana.
• The audacity of smoke: While most Americans are still dazed from the midterm elections (learning all those new names in the House isn't easy), some are already looking ahead to 2008, including the New Republic, which is weighing a possible liability for Barack Obama: He's a smoker. As recounted by Rawstory.com, TNR's Michael Currie Schaffer writes, "In an age when too many politicians come off as blow-dried confections whose every decision is based on some calculus of future advancement, a public image can actually be helped by the occasional evidence of vice— at least the variety of it that doesn't involve interns, pages, or choked mistresses." Or, it need not be mentioned, a DUI.
• Biggest non-denial denial in history: "I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."—Newt Gingrich in Fortune.
• Borat spanks back at fratboys: Fox producers are asking that a Sacha Baron Cohen-targeting lawsuit be thrown out, as the (possibly?) insensitive remarks were made after the three pledge brothers signed release forms—sober. Ugh, enough talking about the witless American-filming Kazakh journalist—it's Bruno's time to shine.
• Iraqing his brain: President George says that he hasn't "made any decisions about troop increases or troop decreases, and won't until I hear from a variety of sources...." Those to hear from include stay-the-courser Dick Cheney, extend-the-courser Charles Rangel, leave-the-courser Democrats, strained-intercourser Laura Bush, and of course, Barney the dog.
• No smiles at the Laugh Factory: Michael Richards, visibly troubled and tremendously shaken, apologized on David Letterman's show for his inexcusable remarks. The appearance was arranged by Richards's friend, former neighbor, and the night's scheduled guest Jerry Seinfeld—who has always asked but, unlike Kramer, never answered the question, "Who are these people?"