Karl Rove + Karen Johnson = Lovers? That's the Gossip Folks!

Karl Rove has earned himself some gossip payback.

President Bush's deputy chief of staff and foremost fishwife is fending off whispers about his friendship with lobbyist Karen Johnson.

Rove, who stands accused of using leaks and slurs against Sen. John McCain, terrorism adviser Richard Clarke and CIA agent Valerie Plame, was mum when we called about Johnson, a never-married, fortysomething GOP loyalist from Austin, Texas.

The two are said to have become acquainted when Johnson sat on the board of then-Gov. George W. Bush's Business Council.

"Their friendship reportedly deepened after Bush appointed Johnson - a little-known spokesperson for the Texas Good Roads Association - to a seat on his Transportation Department transition team in 2000," Radaronline.com reports. "The plum appointment enabled Johnson's lobbying firm, Infrastructure Solutions, to snare such high-paying clients as Aetna and the city of Laredo."

Johnson now travels frequently between Washington, D.C., and Austin, where she often appears at Rove's side at parties, according to Radar.

"Although there is no evidence that their relationship is anything but professional, the close association between the married White House aide and the comely lobbyist has long raised eyebrows in conservative Texas circles," the mag reports.

One Longhorn journalist says, "I've heard the stories, but I would never write about Karl and Karen. If you want to keep your job as a reporter in Texas, you make believe you don't see them together."

Johnson declined to comment on the story. A White House spokesman told Radar that Rove's relationship with her was "the business of these two individuals who have personal lives."
~From the wonderful Liz Smith, yay for Bisexuals!

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