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Washington, being the center of the universe, attracts publicity seekers like sweat to a prom date’s palm. Whether it’s a delegation from the Kingdom of Tonga inquiring about aid or television’s Morgan Fairchild pleading on behalf of a fuzzy, endangered creature, D.C.’s streets host a daily parade of notables great and small.

So perhaps it is coincidence that brings two startlingly similar celebrities to our fair city within weeks of each other, one hawking a new fragrance, the other plugging an autobiography.

Consider the shared traits of these superluminaries: the deep-set, almond-shape eyes pinching a long, aquiline nose; the thin lips curled upward in a cruel imitation of a smile; the luxurious, full, blond mane framing tightly muscled jaws; the difficulty with language. And, of course, neither star is circumcised.

The alert reader may have guessed that this could only describe superdog Lassie and/or superhunk Fabio. But these are no mere doppelgängers. Examined closely, there are subtle distinctions. Lest one arrive at a perfume promotion expecting a book autograph, study the following to determine the differences between man and beast.

LINEAGE

LASSIE is a seventh-generation purebred collie, a Scottish breed.

FABIO was sired by a wealthy conveyer-belt magnate in Milan.

HANDLING

LASSIE has a trainer, Rudd Weatherwax, to explain complicated tricks and stunts.

FABIO has an adviser, Peter Paul of Beverly Hills, to explain complicated publicity tours and photo shoots.

LOYALTY

LASSIE escaped from a cruel master and undertook a perilous journey across hundreds of miles to return to the young boy who loved him.

FABIO cheated on the one woman he really cared for, a New York model, ending a four-year relationship.

ODOR

LASSIE: Flea & Tick Powder by Hartz

FABIO: Mediterraneum by Versace

GENDER CONFUSION

LASSIE, a male, has always played female roles on-screen.

“We’re together more than married people,” states FABIO adviser Peter Paul.

COURAGE

“[The weasel’s] savage, white teeth were bared, and he gave a shrill cry that sounded like one of defiant rage.

“Lassie, with head low, gazed at him. She had never seen such an animal before. Nor was there in her breeding the instinct of the terrier kind, which will dash more quickly than thought of man at any form of rodent life. She was a working-dog breed, a dog of peace—and yet instinct drove her on.

“Slowly the ruff on her neck rose. The lips curled back from her teeth. Her ears lay flat against her head. She gathered her hindquarters under her.

“But at the second she sprang, as if knowing the precise moment when that would be, the screaming weasel flashed aside.”

Lassie Come-Home

“There is no looking back once you get a love attack.”

—“When Somebody Loves Somebody,”Fabio After Dark CD

IQ

LASSIE has been called “remarkably intelligent” and has spent countless dog-years learning to perform complex and dangerous feats on command.

In school, FABIO “couldn’t just sit down and listen to the lesson.”

FIRST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE

LASSIE: Age 1. “She was in heat.”

FABIO: Age 15. “She was very far from a beauty.”

WHAT THE PUNDITS SAY

LASSIE is “heart-warming.”

—Leonard Maltin

“FABIO is a skilled seducer.”

—Camille Paglia

FIRST MEDIA AEARANCE

LASSIE: Saturday Evening Post, 1939

FABIO: Hearts Aflame, 1987 romance novel (cover only)

FAVORITE FOOD

LASSIE: Homemade stew with a side dish of cottage cheese

FABIO: Five-egg-white and mushroom omelet and cranberry juice

LITERACY

Lassie Come-Home is required reading in schools in Poland.

FABIO has a 900 phone line.

FAVORITE DESTINATION

LASSIE: Private bedroom at the Weatherwax Ranch

FABIO: Maldive Islands

QUOTE

LASSIE: “Bark! Bark!” (“Come quick! Ranger Corey’s in trouble!”)

FABIO: “I’m very interested in what makes romance work.”

Of course, the real question when considering these pop-culture icons must be: If the house was on fire and Timmy was locked inside, who would you send to the rescue? Or, to put it in more realistic terms: Waking up after a night of passion, which star would you expect to find drinking out of your toilet?

Dave Nuttycombe

IQ

LASSIE has been called “remarkably intelligent” and has spent countless dog-years learning to perform complex and dangerous feats on command.

In school, FABIO “couldn’t just sit down and listen to the lesson.”

FIRST SEXUAL EXPERIENCE

LASSIE: Age 1. “She was in heat.”

FABIO: Age 15. “She was very far from a beauty.”

WHAT THE PUNDITS SAY

LASSIE is “heart-warming” —Leonard Maltin

“FABIO is a skilled seducer.” —Camille Paglia

FIRST MEDIA AEARANCE

LASSIE: Saturday Evening Post, 1939

FABIO: Hearts Aflame, 1987 romance novel (cover only)

FAVORITE FOOD

LASSIE: Homemade stew with a side dish of cottage cheese

FABIO: Five egg-white and mushroom omelet and cranberry juice

LITERACY

Lassie Come-Home is required reading in schools in Poland

FABIO has a 900 phone line

FAVORITE DESTINATION

LASSIE: Private bedroom at the Weatherwax Ranch

FABIO: Maldive Islands

QUOTE

LASSIE: “Bark! Bark!” (“Come quick! Ranger Corey’s in trouble!”)

FABIO: “I’m very interested in what makes romance work.”

Of course, the real question when considering these pop-culture icons must be: If the house was on fire and Timmy was locked inside, who would you send to the rescue? Or, to put it in more realistic terms: Waking up after a night of passion, which star would you expect to find drinking out of your toilet?