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Rove, celebs trading jabs

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WASHINGTON — Put celebrity environmental activists in a room with top Bush administration officials and a meeting of the minds could result. At least that is a theoretical possibility.

The more likely outcome is that an argument will break out, as it did at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner Saturday night, between Karl Rove, the president's deputy chief of staff, and singer Sheryl Crow and Laurie David, a major Democratic donor and a producer of the global warming documentary featuring Al Gore, "An Inconvenient Truth."

Crow and David, who have been visiting campuses in an event billed as the Stop Global Warming College Tour, approached Rove to urge him to take "a fresh look" at global warming, they explained later.

Recriminations between the celebrities and the White House carried over into Sunday, with Crow and David calling Rove "a spoiled child throwing a tantrum" and the White House criticizing their "Hollywood histrionics."

"I honestly thought that I was going to change his mind, like, right there and then," David said Sunday, The Associated Press reported.

Crow was at the dinner as a guest of Bloomberg News. David and her husband, Larry David, a creator of "Seinfeld," were guests of CNN. Rove was a guest of The New York Times.

The one thing all three parties agree on is that the conversation quickly became heated.

As Crow and David described it on the Huffington Post Web site on Sunday, when Rove turned toward his table, Crow touched his arm and "Karl swung around and spat, 'Don't touch me."'

Both sides agreed that Crow told him, "You can't speak to us like that; you work for us," to which Rove responded, "I don't work for you; I work for the American people." Crow and David wrote that Crow shot back, "We are the American people."

In their joint Internet posting, Crow and David described Rove as responding with "anger flaring" and as having "exploded with even more venom" as their argument continued.

"She came over to insult me," Rove said on Saturday night, when asked about the encounter, "and she succeeded."

Rove did not respond to a request for comment on the women's written description of the argument on Sunday.

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said, "We have respect for the opinions and passion that many people have for climate change." But, Fratto said, "I wish the same respect was afforded to the president."

He accused Crow and David of ignoring the administration's environmental initiatives, like the president's push for the development of alternative fuels, and for "going after officials with misinformed assertions at a social dinner."

"It would be better," Fratto said, "to set aside Hollywood histrionics and try to help with the problem instead of this baseless, and tasteless, finger-pointing."