Anna Nicole overshadows wacky astronaut

Published 12:33 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2007

By Staff
"Lust in Space," the NASA love triangle starring an astronaut in a diaper, once would have been bizarre enough to captivate the cable channels which package news for our entertainment for a few days at least. It's as incredible as hearing the vice president just shot an old man in the face while hunting.
Her getting into a squad car with her head covered by a jacket took us back to another short-lived tabloid TV tale, the Runaway Bride.
Then Vickie Lynn Hogan died, dominating airtime on every channel.
It was as though a head of state died instead of a 39-year-old former Texas stripper who idolized Marilyn Monroe and will forever be compared to the 1950s sex symbol for being blonde, ditzy, voluptuous and dead too young Feb. 8 (Monroe of a drug overdose at 36) under mysterious circumstances at a Hard Rock hotel in Florida.
You know her as Anna Nicole Smith, the former Guess jeans model, TrimSpa spokeswoman and 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year.
The facts she spawned her own E! reality show and married an 89-year-old oil tycoon, J. Howard Marshall, in 1994 also rev the notoriety meter.
A federal court awarded Smith $474 million, but that judgment was overturned, leading to the startling image of her before the Supreme Court, which ruled she deserved another day in court.
Plus, she lost her son Daniel, 20, Sept. 10, in her hotel room in the Bahamas, days after giving birth to a daughter, Dannielynn.
So there's a big money fight brewing and a who's-the-daddy battle in which Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband joined attorney Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead.
Lisa Nowak, in case you missed her burst of coverage, is the 43-year-old mom and former valedictorian obsessed with another astronaut, shuttle pilot William Oefelein.
Nowak drove 900 miles from Houston to Florida to confront her perceived rival, traveling with a trenchcoat, a wig, a BB gun cartridge, a new steel mallet, a knife, rubber tubing, large garbage gags and pepper spray.
The diaper was a timesaving device to skip bathroom breaks during her long drive until it became a light-night punchline.
Nowak was accused of plotting to kidnap Colleen Shipman, who she believed was romantically linked to Oefelein.
She may have sprayed the pepper spray into Shipman's car at the Orlando airport.
Shipman, 30, is an engineer at Patrick Air Force Base, near Kennedy Space Center.
Nowak and Oefelein, 41, trained together, but never flew into space together. He isn't married, but has two children.
Nowak traveled more than 5 million miles in space on last July's Discovery mission.
Nowak graduated from high school in Maryland in 1981 and from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985. Her husband, Richard, works for a NASA contractor.
They have three children, twin 5-year-old girls and a teenage son, and separated a few weeks ago after 19 years of marriage.
Even with psychological screening as sophisticated as NASA, people snap. You don't have to go any farther than Cassopolis to find a valedictorian who killed someone.
It's as newsworthy as it was because of the astronaut angle.
We hold them in such high regard, even after an astronaut and a rocket scientist got outwitted, outplayed and outlasted on "Survivor."
We invent something as marvelous as the Internet, then use it to send joke e-mail, chain letters and swindles.
Twenty-four-hour cable news is headed the same direction.
The more you watch, the less you know.
The subway hero parlayed his 15 minutes of fame into the gallery for the State of the Union, but I didn't see the story of Osman Chowdhury, I read about it in an old-fashioned newspaper.
He's the cab driver from Bangladesh who returned to a jeweler 31 diamond rings left in his taxi trunk, even after she gave him a 30-cent tip on an $11 ride.
He accepted her $100 reward only because of fares he missed tracking her down. "I'm not going to take someone else's money or property to make me rich," he told the New York Daily News. "I don't want it that way."