MONDAY, JANUARY 28 After a virtual famine of sightings involving our hunky visiting celeb Benicio del Toro, he's finally decided to poke his head out of that adorable shell. One Day Hot Tipper Amanda got some actual face time with the delectable del Toro, and here's her story! "My boy-toy and I were out for a night of drinking and seeing some ladies get naked at Mary's Club. While there, this tall drink of water walked in, and he looked sooo familiar. I was trying to place where I knew him and then, it hit me!!! That is Benicio!!! I will admit, I never really understood your passion 'cause I thought he was kinda dorky lookin' with those droopy eyes and such. But oh no, I was soooo wrong. I could not take my eyes off of this lovely vision. Then some stoopid ass drunk guy had to pick a fight with some other stoopid ass drunk guy, so Benicio and pals decided to leave. Boy-toy and I left shortly afterward and ran into Benicio and pals standing in front of their hotel. We stopped and chatted and I put my arm around him and felt all silly and giddy. Oh, what a dreamboat!" We know, Amanda! We Know!! Meanwhile, Hot Tipper Julia also got a glimpse of the irrepressible Benicio at a fancy downtown art party this past weekend. According to Julia, he was with his "Portland girlfriend" (Whaaaaa???) who, unfortunately for the rest of us, was "absolutely adorable, charming, and incapable of being hated." Benny was drinking a 16-oz. Budweiser, dressed in his blue puffy jacket, and was sporting that ill-fitting baseball cap he likes to precariously perch on his head. However, before Julia had a chance to chat up the dreamy BDT, some "20-year-old fathead frat boy came in and kicked everybody out." Refusing to be ruffled by someone who everyone in Portland should now consider to be an IDIOT, the ever-collected and calm Benicio merely shrugged, left the building and drove away in a Toyota Corolla--the automotive choice of the common man. See why we love this guy??

TUESDAY, JANUARY 29 In yet another scrape involving children of the Bush family and the law, Noelle Bush (daughter of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) was arrested today for trying to purchase Xanax with a fraudulent prescription. According to the Associated Press, Noelle was suffering an anxiety attack and was out of medication. She then phoned in the prescription to a Walgreens pharmacy, employing the always-successful tactic of using a funny voice and pretending you're a doctor. Immediately suspicious, the pharmacist alerted the pigs who, shortly afterwards, busted the woman we think already suffers enough from being the daughter of Jeb Bush. Sensing his daughter's plight would make a great soundbite, Gov. Bush told reporters he was "deeply saddened" by his daughter's behavior and noted that "substance abuse is an issue confronting many families across our nation." And to prove that fact, President Bush's daughters and Prince Harry threw a "get out of jail" party for Noelle, which is reported to have included a "fifth of tequila" and a "bag of the sticky-icky-icky."

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30 The results are in! According to a USA Today/Gallup Poll, President Bush has a "97% approval rating regarding his handling of the war" and can do no wrong. In fact, it probably would have been 100% except for the fact that 3% of those polled are probably crazy. Let's look at an example of one of the perfect things President Bush said last night in his State of the Union address (which 99% of Republicans said was perfect). During his statement, Bush referred to Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as an "axis of evil" and that "the United States will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." While everyone in America thought that was "perfect," incredibly enough, Iran, Iraq, and in particular, North Korea were inexplicably pissed. Iraqi V.P. Taha Yassin Ramadan, for some weird reason, said that "the statement of President Bush is a stupid statement and inappropriate." Also thinking Bush's speech was less than perfect was Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who said, "He spoke arrogantly, humiliatingly, aggressively, and in an interfering way." Even the normally clear-thinking North Koreans seemed perturbed when they declared Bush's perfect remark to being just short of an act of war and made veiled threats about blowing us off the map. Naturally these arguments are ridiculous, right? We mean, how can you argue with perfection? Especially when you're dead?

THURSDAY, JANUARY 31 Oh, and there's something else you can do when you have a 97% approval rating: WHATEVER YOU WANT. Today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld justified the Bush administration's request for an increase of the defense budget--to the tune of 48 billion dollars. Now, to many that may seem like a lot of money, but if your President is making negative remarks about countries with nuclear capabilities well, one can't be too careful, can one? Also, when you have a 97% approval rating, it makes it a lot easier to get rid of that pesky abortion thingy. Today the Bush administration gave the thumbs-up to a new program that would offer national prenatal assistance but only if you're a fetus. By recognizing the fetus as an entity that could receive federal funding, this implies the fetus is a person, which strengthens the case of anti-abortion supporters who have previously had to prove their point by gunning down doctors at Planned Parenthood. Personally, we're against the proposal--if only because we don't want our hard-earned tax dollars going to fetuses who are sitting around living off of unemployment benefits.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1 The hilarious predicament of Winona Ryder continues! As you surely recall, the star of Reality Bites and Girl, Interrupted was caught allegedly shoplifting almost $4,800 worth of clothing from Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. According to the police report, clerks spotted her ripping off price tags and shoving the articles in her bag (which also happened to contain an illegal prescription for the painkiller Oxycodone but that's beside the point). She was also allegedly caught on security cameras using scissors to cut the sensor tag off a $1000 Judith Leiber handbag (well what can we say? The girl does have taste). Regardless, Winona was formally charged today in court, with four counts of felony. This means, if convicted, it will be extremely difficult for Winona to steal anyone else's boyfriend. But as we can see, there's a bright side to everything.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2 The self-proclaimed King of Pop, Michael Jackson returns to the news with another innuendo-filled interview involving himself and (gulp) kids. In the latest issue of Vibe magazine, Michael climbs up on his soapbox to make the case for a national holiday for children. "There's a Mother's Day, and there's a Father's Day but there's no Children's Day!" Jackson adroitly noted. Apparently, Jackson feels the holiday would spotlight the "innocence of children" which, in turn, would bring about "world peace." This, of course, is a load of hooey, because kids are some of the nastiest little sons-of-bitches we've ever seen. Regardless, Jackson went on to recount the joyful times he's had with children at his Neverland ranch, which includes a rollercoaster, kiddie rides, and his favorite past-time ever--water-balloon fights. Naturally, he never seems to invite any adults to any of his water-balloon battles but that could be simply because there isn't such a thing as a Water-Balloon Day.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3 And speaking of holidays, today was National Sit On Your Ass, Eat Pork Rinds and Watch the Superbowl Day. And though we wouldn't be caught dead watching such an abomination, we hear that the New England Patriots won a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams, and that Paul McCartney said some really stupid things about the sweet irony of the "Patriots" winning. Yeah, Paul. Because America will eventually succeed in their war against the goats with curly horns. Go back to England, you limey dumbshit.

Got a Benicio sighting? Then what are you waiting for? ann@portlandmercury.com