WASHINGTON — Gap has already bottomed out — at least according to its chairman, Donald Fisher.

Fisher flew in from San Francisco last week with his wife, Doris, co-chairman of the National Gallery of Art’s annual Collectors Committee meeting. Naturally, business was also on his mind. In his view, Gap’s sales bottomed out in July 2002 and it’s all up from here.

"The bottom was over at the end of July," he said. "We’ll do even better in the third quarter."

Fisher called Gap’s new president, Paul Pressler, a former Disney executive, "the perfect person for the job. He really knows how to run a business."

Asked whether he thinks his former golden boy, Mickey Drexler, will give Gap some stiff competition in his new post at J. Crew, Fisher said, "It’s a small company, but sure he will. I hope he does well.’’

Fisher also met with congressional representatives. "Those congressional offices, some of them don’t have any air conditioning,’’ he said.

While Doris Fisher was busy voting to buy a new sculpture by Tony Firth for the National Gallery, the Gap chairman explained, "I spent the day lobbying Congress for CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement," adding that he took time to help some members of Congress with their geography. "Some of them are not so sure where it stops.’’

Fisher said his efforts are aimed at following up on President Bush’s April 11 meeting with leaders from the five Central American nations. At that time, Special Trade Representative Robert Zoellick called on the leaders of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua to help build congressional support.

Fisher had another chance to make his pitch Tuesday night when gallery trustees went to dinner at the home of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) and his wife, Sharon. At a dinner the following night at the National Gallery opening for the sculpture exhibition by 18th century French artist Jean-Antoine Houdon, Doris Fisher explained her day.

"The curator showed us four pieces of sculpture, and we voted to buy a piece by Tony Firth entitled ‘Die,’ which stands for a single dice,’’ she said, adding that she and her husband, who collect contemporary art, have a "small piece’’ by Firth in their private collection. The Collectors Committee, she explained, was founded 27 years ago for the gallery to buy works of living artists. "Each member pays $10,000 a year,’’ she said. She joined in 1982 and has been co-chair since 1995; her co-chairman is Barney A. Epsworth, founder of INTRAN, Royal Cruise Line and Clipper Cruise Line.In 1998, the Fishers donated a sculpture by Sol LeWitt entitled "Four-Sided Pyramid’’ to the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden, which opened in September.

Don Fisher also took time out from the party to consider the Nike lawsuit currently before the Supreme Court. At issue is Nike’s vigorous public relations campaign to defend itself against allegations that it, like Gap, used overseas sweatshops. Critics say Nike’s defense amounted to false advertising. Nike, the world’s largest manufacturer of athletic shoes, contends it has a First Amendment right to explain itself to its customers.

"I think it’s a ridiculous suit and Nike is right on it,’’ said Fisher. "How else can you defend yourself?’’

As for Gap’s sweatshop problems, he said, "It’s all over. It all got settled. We do the best job we can overseas.’’

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