Diary: Marr was all ears during his coup in the West Wing

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The Independent Online

If his coyly beatific grin belonged to a figure gazing upon Jesus in a Renaissance painting, let no one blame Andrew Marr for that. Getting quality time alone with Barack Obama, as Andy did for the interview broadcast yesterday, isn't easy. Nick Clegg would tell you that. The snub for Nick, whose pleas for an audience during the state visit were rebuffed, must be excruciating. It is almost as if the White House concluded, in the worst foreign policy miscalculation since 'Nam, that our deputy PM isn't fantastically important. Andy, on the other hand, is. He recovered from recent embarrassments to score an interview that West Wing insiders are styling "The 'Ears? You call those weeny things ears?' Summit".

And he did fine, subjugating the sycophancy almost as well as he would have wished. What ensued when the mics were turned off, it would be indelicate to reveal. But unnamed sources inform us that Obama leant over and whispered: "Hey, how come we never talked about the special relationship?" "Well, Mr President," Andy replied, "it's barely a month since I yielded my super-injunction, and the last thing I want to do is reopen that can of worms."

* If Nick Clegg made one error when begging for his photo op, perhaps it was in his choice of bargaining chip. With hindsight, offering to send Chris Huhne to the airport to collect the Obamas and drive back to London at the front of the cavalcade looks a tactical mistake.

* If Chris suffers memory problems, in his case about who was at the wheel in 2003, he is not alone. Kelvin MacKenzie has been amnesiac for years, what with that failure to recall whether he wants to apologise for his despicable Hillsborough coverage or bullishly defend it. And it only gets worse.

Having promised last week to write about being bugged by the News of the World in Thursday's Sun column, he failed to mention it at all. Obviously so bold a buccaneer couldn't be bullied into silence to spare Mr Murdoch's blushes. So again we reluctantly query early-onset Alzheimer's brought on by horrendous snoring (see the younger Milibandroid, below).

* In the preposterously conflated Kenneth Clarke rape row, one thing has been overlooked. If Ken chose his words clumsily, no wonder he was befuddled, because the night before his beloved Nottingham Forest suffered their annual defeat in the Championship play offs. How Kelvin's sleep apnoea colleague Ed Miliband failed to cut him some slack, who can say? But his demand for Ken's head was his most cretinous mistake so far. For god's sake, boy, grow up. Time is short.

* Relief, finally, for fans of Mike Read. Mike, ridiculously cited by many as an Alan Partridge inspiration, hadn't been seen for a while. Thankfully he has turned up safe, resident at the Travelodge in Rochester. A fine broadcaster and we wish him only well.

* Great to see Nadine Dorries, writing in the Mail on Sunday, stoutly defending her proposal to teach girls the joy of no sex. No harm there. Where the comedy MP for Mid Beds let herself down was in dwelling on a penchant for sliding condoms on to bananas. The banana is the giant panda of the fruit world. You can leave a bunch in the fruit bowl all night, and there's not a chance of finding a baby banana in the morning.

* Speaking of which, belated happy returns to Andrew Neil, who turned 62 on Saturday. On his BBC1 gurn-fest This Week, he dismissed Nadine as bananas, which was rude. She counter-struck on her blog by calling him "an overweight, orange toupée-wearing has-been", which was rude. The Adonis is no has-been. And if he has been reluctant to go ginger until now, what he chooses to do in the privacy of his own bathroom is his own affair.