Former tabloid headliner and amateur videographer Rob Lowe just can't seem to escape those scurrilous rumors. The West Wing star gets a kick out of hearing how the hit show supposedly jump-started his career, and that he's back on top.

"I never went away. I always worked and made a lot of money. I mean, it's not like I had to go and do a bus-and-truck tour of The Fantasticks," Lowe tells Mirabella. "I certainly was aware that I wasn't making any '20 Hottest Guy' lists, [and] I'm definitely at a time where I'm not thrilled about having my damn waist size on the back of my Levi's!" But at least now they're zipped.

In case you'd forgotten, back in 1988 Lowe got himself into a heap of trouble and took some nasty industry hits when the embarrassing story broke about how he had videotaped himself and two girls having sex (one was underage) while attending the Democratic National Convention. Forget nominee Michael Dukakis ? it's Lowe's youthful sexcapades that people remember.

"Well, my experience with people who come up to me on the street is that they don't give a s---," he says. "The only people that do are editors, journalists and, to use a Washington term, the liberal elite."

While he keeps a much lower public profile these days, Lowe does harbor thoughts on being a few passes removed from the teen-idol torch, carried these days by the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio. "I have a lot of sympathy for him," Lowe says. "But, hey, I'm also aware that it's hard to get a pity party going for somebody who's rich and famous and being chased by women. Oh, well, what the hell ? somebody has to do it."