Published April 21, 2003
OAKLAND, Calif. – A new national sex symbol is emerging from an unlikely source: Washington, D.C.
"You are so damned hot... And smart, too! I ... am enthralled by your ... adorably handsome appearance."
"You are so cute and intelligent."
"I believe he is the first bald man I have ever been attracted to!!!"
No, these are not accolades for Bruce Willis, rather excerpts from fan mail to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer posted on the Web. Not since the heady days of mini Adonis George Stephanopoulos has a presidential spinmeister received such attention from the ladies.
"My friend and I have our own 'club' for Ari and are big fans!" wrote two girls from Washington State on Ari Fan Club, one of several sites devoted to Fleischer. "He is just very comforting and ... nice. He is so eloquent and trustable! We are definitely fans of Ari! ... We're two teenage girls with a political icon crush! Strange? Yes! But he's a cool guy!"
The site, which features a decidedly pro-White House, anti-Susan Sarandon sentiment, includes a tribute page to Fleischer, which blasts "My Country 'Tis of Thee" while a Web surfer can meditate on a photograph of a curly-locked young Ari.
The tribute also includes excerpts from an interview with Fleischer, in which he describes his typical day, from waking up at 5 a.m. to doing the early morning press "gaggle."
The site's Webmaster, Benjamin Marino of Philadelphia, said that the key to Fleischer's popularity with the womenfolk lies in his confident demeanor.
"To us, he encompasses suavity," Marino told Fox. "As far as his popularity with women goes, Ari has what all women want — complete confidence. Everything on top of that is just extra."
Marino added that women first attracted to the press secretary's confidence will soon realize he's much more than a strong-armed spokesman for President Bush.
"They're sure to notice that he's one of the best-dressed men in D.C. He also possesses a charismatic glow that is unmatched by any of his predecessors," said Marino.
Of course in addition to his looks, many Fleischer fans, including Marino, also appreciate his ability at answering persistent reporters, such as Helen Thomas.
"Gifted in his rhetoric and wit, he can fend off even the most arrogant and skilled interrogators," said Marino.
But women who hold onto fantasies of being swept away by their bald-headed Prince Ari will have to keep on dreaming: Alas, Fleischer, 42, married 26-year-old Rebecca Davis in late 2002.
Another Ari fan site, Ari Fleischer Rules, has a guestbook with comments such as "Ari Ari Ari ... HOT! HOT! HOT!" and "At long last, I finally found sane people who realize the amazingness [sic] of this sexy beast of a man."
The true testament to Fleischer's appeal may be that it transcends national boundaries. One Ari Fan Club poster wrote, "I could watch those kissable sweet lips move all day....and I'm Canadian!!!"
Of course, even Fleischer has his detractors. Some postings to Ari Fleischer Rules aren't exactly oozing goodwill toward the press secretary.
Writes one poster who gives his name as Sean, "Ari is a fat, ugly, bug-eyed, self-loathing creep."