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This Time, It Wasn't D.C.'s Fault

Paul Rodriguez (Courtesy of ICM)

Comedian Paul Rodriguez came to Washington to do some celebrity lobbying -- and ended up on a 24-7 tabloid death watch! But no worries: He's feeling just fine and still loves the nation's capital.

"If I had to have a city to get ill, Washington is the place," he told us Monday. "The nurses gave me a sponge bath that ought to be illegal in most states."

Rodriguez, a star on the comedy-club scene, arrived last week for his California Latino Water Coalition, which lobbies for drought-stricken areas in the state. He met with Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; everything was going great ... until dinner Wednesday at a Mexican restaurant.

The Mexican-born comic, 54, said he ordered tacos with huitlacoche, a smoky-tasting fungus that grows on corn and has been considered a delicacy since the Aztecs first enjoyed it. "From my point of view, it explains why the Aztecs disappeared," he said.

Soon thereafter, his stomach pains became so severe ("It felt like a scene with Sigourney Weaver in 'Alien.' It was as close as I've ever come to childbirth") that he landed in intensive care at George Washington University Hospital and stayed three nights. Once the celebrity blogs found out, they spent all weekend buzzing about his mysterious, life-threatening illness.

"I'm fine, thank God," he said. Old pal Jay Leno -- Rodriguez used to open for him -- phoned three times to check on him, as did other friends. "It's beyond sweet. Letterman didn't call me. He's probably with Polanski at Chuck E. Cheese."

The comic was released from the hospital Sunday and is back in California, with no hard feelings about any of it. "I recommend the restaurant, Washington, our form of democracy. I plan to sue no one at all." But will he go back to the restaurant? "Absolutely! But I'm going to stick with the enchiladas and tortillas."

By The Reliable Source  |  October 6, 2009; 1:05 AM ET
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