Well dang it. Reading through the puzzle, and as soon as WML was brought up, the answer came to me. Alas, I wasn't here to ask it. I used to watch a lot of late night WML -- it has a weirdly interesting appeal to it. RE: the Colonel, it's still slightly surreal to me that someone whose appearance is so extremely well-known these days was so very much unknown not that long ago.
Nice puzzle, Westing!