By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated April 03, 2002 01:10 PM
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Oprah Winfrey isn’t a party pooper, after all. As was reported earlier in the week by PEOPLE.com and other news outlets, the media mogul, 46, passed on an invitation by the Bush administration to join an official U.S. delegation to tour Afghanistan’s schools, where young women have been allowed to return after the fall of the Taliban regime. (“She was invited and she respectfully declined,” a spokeswoman for Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Productions told the Associated Press.) On Tuesday, via a call to her friend on ABC’s “The View,” Star Jones, Winfrey addressed the issue, saying she felt “extremely used” by the administration for implying that she was too busy to join the junket. As reported by the New York Post, Jones, 40, said on Tuesday’s “The View,” “Oprah called this morning . . . and she wanted to talk a little bit about what the real story was. She told me that she was approached several weeks back (by the White House) and was told that the plans were ultra-sensitive. She was really, really quiet, and the White House said check your schedule, and she did — but she had some fund-raisers that she had committed to and anybody knows when you do these things . . . people sell tickets expecting you to be there.” Winfrey couldn’t back out of the benefit. “The White House knew she wasn’t going to be able to go, but (Bush adviser) Karen Hughes told her they were going anyway,” Jones said. “So Oprah says for the last couple of weeks she thought, ‘Oh, they had gone.’ She said, ‘So imagine my surprise, I wake up and read in the newspaper that I’m being cavalier, I’m too busy.’ She said it didn’t happen that way and it really wasn’t fair.”