WASHINGTON &

It started last week with a tongue-in-cheek letter from Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: How, DeFazio asked, could Springfield, Vt., hijack the premiere screening of "The Simpsons" movie from Springfield, Ore.?

He said an investigation was in order. The dysfunctional TV family's home, said DeFazio, clearly is Springfield, Ore., where the congressman also lives.

Springfield, Vt. beat out a dozen or so other Springfields in an online vote, and won the rights for the first look at the movie.

On Monday, Vermont Congressman Peter Welch struck back, with his own spoof letter to DeFazio.

"This whole thing sounds like a bad case of sour Oregon cherries," Welch wrote to his fellow Democrat.

Welch also said Gonzalez is rather busy at the moment, fielding inquiries from another Vermont resident.

That would be Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, who is a leader of the investigation into the fired U.S. attorneys scandal.

As for whether Homer and company belong in Vermont, Welch points out that Homer's favorite breakfast is a "nice glass of syrup."

Many thought Springfield, Ore., had an inside track. Simpsons creator Matt Groening is an Oregon native and occasionally sprinkles Oregon references through the 30-minute animated shows.

But Springfield, Ore., finished third in the voting despite being several times larger than its Vermont counterpart.

With a bowling alley, a pub, a prison and a nuclear power plant just down the road, Springfield, Vt., likes to think itself a real-life version of the home of "The Simpsons."

But nobody's having a cow, man. Welch has invited DeFazio to join him at the premiere this Saturday in Springfield, Vt.'s 100-seat theater.

The rest of the nation gets a look at it a week later.