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August 03, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

BASEBAWL Cal Ripken wasn't the only one who got choked up during his Hall of Fame speech.

John Travolta, who became friends with the Iron Man while filming Ladder 49 in Baltimore and attended the festivities in Cooperstown, seemed beside himself.

See for yourself at http:--web.baseballhalloffame.org/sightssounds. Fast-forward to the 1 hour, 28 minute mark in the induction ceremony, when Ripken gets to the part about his children.

The camera pans to Ripken's son and daughter, and Travolta can be seen seated right behind them. The star we've known as Vinnie Barbarino, Danny Zuko and other tough guys "breaks down," in the words of my tipster, "and starts bawling like my wife at the end of a `chick-flick.'"

Maybe playing Edna Turnblad wasn't such a stretch.

God, the churches and Stephen Colbert

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, promoting her book about religion and politics, appeared the other night on America's most serious literary forum: The Colbert Report on Comedy Central.

Like host Stephen Colbert, Bobby Kennedy's eldest daughter and Maryland's former two-term lieutenant governor was by turns earnest and facetious while discussing Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches Are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way.

OK, Townsend was more earnest than facetious. Colbert, more facetious than earnest. But it evened out.

KKT: "The Christian right has shrunk God. And they've made us care not about the common good, not about caring for the poor and the sick and the homeless and the helpless, but caring only about abortion, same-sex marriage and stem cell research."

Colbert: "What else should we care about? Isn't that the entirety of Christ's message? And tax cuts?"

Later, Colbert said he didn't quite get the "shrunken God" concept. Townsend explained that instead of focusing on a "personal relationship with God, we should care about the whole community." She quoted the Lord's Prayer to make her case.

KKT: "It's all about `our,' it's `we,' `forgive us.' It's all about a community. ... Instead, what we have is a shrunken God who seems to care only about sexual plumbing."

Colbert: "Are you saying that I'm wrong to pray the `My Father'?"

By phone a few days later, Townsend told me she was happy to plug her book on the show.

"There are very few outlets that are open to authors, so I am completely grateful to Stephen Colbert for having me on and for letting me talk."

It's not just thugs taking shots

Residents of crime-ridden Baltimore, take heart. Just because Martin O'Malley has moved to Annapolis doesn't mean the sniping between City Hall and the state's attorney's office has come to an end.

With two police officers shot this week, Councilman Jim Kraft saw an opportunity to stick it to State's Attorney Pat Jessamy. Kraft issued a news release that "demanded a public statement ... that [Jessamy] commit to seeking the most stringent sentence for those involved" in the shootings.

"Residents and officers alike need to hear from the State's Attorney's Office that she will not tolerate the attempted murder of our police officers and that she will seek the toughest penalties available," said the release, which notes that Kraft "has previously called upon Jessamy to seek stricter sentencing in all violent crimes."

Jessamy, who oversees an office of overworked prosecutors, took the time to turn out a three-page response. It accuses Kraft of "lying to the community" about her office and pursuing a "personal vendetta" against her.

"Councilman Kraft," she writes at one point, "please grow up."

Why can't all the Baltimoreans who aren't trying to kill cops just get along, so we can gang up on the ones who are?

Connect the dots

From baltimorecrime.blogspot.com: "Craigslist ad of the Week. `HBO THE WIRE NEEDS ASAP FOR SAT. 7/28/07 NON UNION NUDE CORPSES. 1 FEMALE 2 MALE - AGE 18-70.' " Pay for playing dead: $125 for 8 hours. ... Alex Hughes, a communications and policy adviser to Maryland House Speaker Michael Busch, has a new gig: Washington communications director for Sen. Ben Cardin. "Prior to her work in Annapolis," the Cardin news release says, "she handled communications for the Baltimore City School System through a particularly challenging period for the city schools" - one that involved an unmentioned boat outing that went about as well as Gilligan's. After a stint on North Avenue, sorting out Iraq, energy policy and universal health care - all priorities the release says Hughes will "advance and clarify" for the office - should be a breeze. ... Sen. Barack Obama announced the Maryland co-chairmen for his presidential campaign yesterday: Rep. Elijah Cummings and Attorney General Doug Gansler.

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