|JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WR|
Even nerdy Washington has caught American Idol fever as the show enters its spectacular finale showdown between 17-year-old Jordin Sparks and beat-box guy Blake Lewis. Of course, the first family, who endorsed the show's massive "Idol Gives Back" fundraiser, will check out the Fox show. But that'll be nothing compared with the cheers and jeers coming out of the Spellings household. Yes, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is an Idol fanatic.
Go ahead and ask: How crazed is she? Spellings is the first in the Bush cabinet to attend a show. It happened earlier this month, and she and daughter Grace even compared notes with judge Simon Cowell. Like Cowell, they loved ousted Melinda Doolittle. "I am shocked over the Melinda situation," says Spellings. "I am confident that she'll have a great career." For finale week, "My pick--Jordin." Another Idol fan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, also chooses Jordin, but she likes Blake's style, too.
It's not just Idol-atry for Spellings. She's very hip to current media, using them to pitch education. This week she'll be the first cabinet member to be on the Daily Show With Jon Stewart, talking up No Child left Behind. "Secretary Spellings has range and No Child Left Behind has no age limit," crows a pal. "She runs the gamut when it comes to the age of the person she's talking to."