Doesn't sound like there's any reason for Rush Limbaugh to keep a chair warm for Gen. Colin Powell.

Before Powell spoke to the Lions Clubs' 92nd International Convention and commended conventioneers for their hard work around the world, the retired military man and former secretary of state was asked if he would go on the radio to talk to Limbaugh. Maybe they can hash out the differences between Powell's brand of reasonable Republicanism and Limbaugh's divisive postures? Limbaugh apparently doesn't think Powell is a real Republican.

"I am a member [of the GOP]. You don't have to carry a card to be a member," Powell said evenly, as you can see at startribune.com/video. "I don't need to go on with Mr. Limbaugh. He understands my position and I understand his."

When last on CNN with John King, Powell averred that, in his opinion, President Barack Obama is taking on too much in his nascent administration. Asked if he had spoken to Obama about that before saying it to King, Powell said: "I have regular conversations with President Obama and his staff. But I speak as an individual not as a representative of anybody."

McNiff was miffed

Gen. No is how KARE11 anchor Tim McNiff may always think of Colin Powell when recalling Wednesday.

McNiff had asked the PR firm handling Powell's appearance for permission to do "11 Questions," Tim's regular morning-show segment, with the general. As McNiff was being told that this wasn't going to happen, he looked ready to explode like a Roman candle. McMiffed had fireworks in his eyes but he conveyed his dissatisfaction without an explosion.

"I said to her, I said, 'If you work for a communications firm, a communications outlet, your effort was inept at best,' " McNiff told me. "We were brought here under circumstances not communicated to us, as to what we could and could not do. In my case, specifically, it sounded too good to be true, so I sent an e-mail saying, 'Can I really do this?' and I was told, Yes, you can, only to arrive and find out -- from the same person -- No, you can't."

That was not was the end of the indignities. As TV photogs closed their tripods and prepared to shoot Powell's keynote address, media were told that cameras were not allowed. McNiff was not happy about that either but I was thrilled! Powell's a handsome man, an exceptional speaker and good off-the-cuff, but speeches can be boring.

Powell, unplugged

Based on how Gen. Powell handled the lighting problems during his "media availability" (see my video), he'd have had fun with Tim McNiff's enjoyable "11 Questions" segment.

The lights set up by KARE11 photographer Matt Passolt went off twice, for unknown reasons.

"You guys want to shoot in the dark?" Powell joked. "Somebody standing by to unplug this?"

He backed away from the podium, the light was restored and he began again. "Well, good morning, everyone. I'm very pleased to be back in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and particularly on this occasion when I get a chance to...." Off the lights went. "... See the lights go on and off," Powell continued with a light laugh.

Local usher for Usher

Word has it that Usher arrived at the Staples Center rehearsal for Michael Jackson's memorial service in the company of a bodyguard from the Twin Cities.

FM107's Sheletta confirmed Minneapolis based-Elijah Shawn is the person in frame viewable at tinyurl.com/lz3on8.

Sheletta said she interviewed Shawn on her Channel 45 TV show, "Crossroads," where the bodyguard gave advice about getting into that line of work.

Gwen & Co. hit MOA

Word has that Gwen Stefani spent about three hours shopping at the Mall of America on July 4th.

My tipster said most of the band from No Doubt was also there. Stefani's nannies and kids reportedly broke away from the group to hit the Nickelodeon Universe rides, Healthy Express and Legoland.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.