The NoDoz congressman

We thought NoDoz were just for hard-partying college students leaving their homework to the last possible moment.
Oh, but no. There’s at least one member of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who takes them regularly — two a day at 200 milligrams of caffeine a pop.

While a source close to Wilson has him ingesting the tablets “like candy,” the congressman insists he is not addicted despite the fact that he has been taking them since high school.

It’s not that the congressman dislikes other forms of caffeine, such as soda or coffee. “I love coffee, but I don’t have time to drink it and I don’t have access to it,” says Wilson, who did appear a bit jumpy upon approach (though, to be fair, ITK does have a habit of sneaking up on lawmakers).

Should he ever care to find a Starbucks, Wilson may find that drinking coffee is easier than it seems. A regular 7-ounce cup of drip coffee has 115 to 175 milligrams of caffeine. Soda, such as a 12-ounce can, may also be an option. Jolt contains 71.2 milligrams of caffeine, while Mountain Dew contains 55 milligrams. Newer options for Wilson may be Coca Cola Blak, which has 45 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce bottle, and Red Bull, which boasts 80 milligrams of caffeine.

The congressman says he has shared his NoDoz use with his doctor, who Wilson says has assured him that the over-the-counter pills are not dangerous unless you get addicted.

He’s only been using NoDoz for more than four decades — clearly, not addicted.



Code Blue: ‘Cross-dressing’ Code Pink member becoming regular at Hill hearings  

Likely the most intriguing thing going on in the Senate Labor, Health, Education and Pensions Committee hearing Monday afternoon was Midge Potts, Code Pink’s representative extraordinaire, who stood in the back of the hearing room.

“They are now sending cross-dressers to big hearings,” noted one Senate aide, who recalled seeing her (him?) at the Valerie Plame hearing last week.

Though Potts dresses and looks (somewhat) like a woman, she may not be so much of a woman after all. “There’s a woman that everyone decides they want to call a man,” said a somewhat annoyed Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink, a grassroots women’s organization with 30 to 40 members in  Washington in pink. They will stay on Capitol Hill until lawmakers de-fund the war in Iraq.

Evans says observers who call Potts a cross-dresser are being impolite.

“I just find it rude,” she says, insisting that Potts most identifies with being a woman no matter the body parts she has. “We’re used to that. People are pretty respectful, but she seems OK with it. She’s used to people being rude too.”

Potts’s attire caught the eye of one aide who saw her (or him): “[She was] in tight jeans and a short-sleeve pink shirt that is way too small,” the aide said, recalling her excessive makeup and very dyed long blond hair. “The person had a sign taped on that said, ‘Fund healthcare not war.’”

The aide remarked that Potts’s presence wasn’t “too distracting because when you work on the Hill, dealing with the weird, wild and wacky is part of the job description.”

Evans explains that Potts has been a member of Code Pink for a long time, and that “she took care of the Code Pink peace garden at Camp Case in Crawford, Texas last summer.” She also ran against Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in the GOP primary and was a U.S Marine.

If you haven’t gotten enough of Midge, you can read her blog on Code Pink’s website (codepink4peace.org) where she makes daily entries.



Robert Reich’s 1966 date with Sen. Hillary Clinton

Robert Reich may be the ultimate talking head. Alone in his living room and away from the constraints of network television, he recently began a video diary on the website Vimeo to share his unexpurgated views on the economy, the political fiascos of the day and his brief dating history with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

The former secretary of labor under President Clinton reveals how he asked Hillary out on a date back in 1966: “She was the president of her freshman class at Wellesley, and I was president of my sophomore class at Dartmouth. … I invited her up for a ‘presidential summit.’”

Reich presents portentous details about the kind of president Hillary would make today: “Her choice of movies was Fellini's ‘Blow Up,’ and she ate lots of butter on her popcorn … Lots of butter. … What's the significance?” he deadpans. “You be the judge.”

To watch the videos, go to RobertReich.blogspot.com.



It’s a baby-naming contest!

Help Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers name her newborn


In an act that may be unprecedented in Congress, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who is pregnant and due to give birth to a boy at the end of May, has agreed to allow readers of The Hill to help choose the name of her baby.

The congresswoman, of course, has veto rights over any nomination, but for now, she is open to suggestions as she is stumped for a name. She has also resorted to calling the baby by a nickname: “I’m calling him Junior at the moment. We’re struggling.”

To make matters even more interesting, McMorris Rodgers isn’t the only person from her congressional office about to face childbirth. Her chief of staff, Connie Partoyan, is due to give birth next month.

McMorris Rodgers has been low-key about the pregnancy from the beginning. She first learned she was pregnant last summer on the campaign trail, but kept it a secret from her suspecting staff, who grew curious when she didn’t opt for caffeine-laden drinks. She has also had few, if any, cravings. “I’m hungry a lot, and then I’m grumpy,” she says. “I just eat whatever I can get my hands on.”

The congresswoman says she tries to stick to fruits, vegetables and lots of milk.

Partoyan, who did not suspect her boss was pregnant on the campaign trail, said she thought the congresswoman was just tired.

The lawmaker insists that her son is giving them the thumbs-up in the ultrasound. “I’m sure it was on the way to his mouth,” she says, laughing. “But it was a very cute picture of him giving us the thumbs-up.”

McMorris Rodgers says she plans to leave Washington at the end of May and be back in June. “I envision staff briefing me on the phone or at my house,” she says.

Married last August, she and her husband, Brian, had not planned on having a child so soon. “We’re both a little older,” said the 37-year-old McMorris Rodgers. “It makes you wonder if it’s going to happen. It’s fair to say it happened quicker than we planned, but we feel blessed.”

Send all baby name nominations (anonymous entries are welcome) to Betsyr@thehill.com or phone them in to 202-628-8516. McMorris Rodgers will weigh in on her options.



Panic strikes for aides on ‘Mother’s Day’

They say moving is among life’s biggest stressors.

But it got a little extra stressful this past weekend for Jason Roe, ex-chief of staff to Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.), who fell into a panic when his wife, Patty, called and told him it was Mother’s Day.

Roe, in the midst of moving to Boston to work for ex-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) presidential campaign, reports that he received the call from Patty, who is chief of staff to Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) and immediately searched the Internet to find out if it was true.

He soon learned that the U.K. was actually celebrating “Mothering Day” and his mistaken wife had been listening to the BBC’s Radio One on satellite radio.

Jason: Mother’s Day is May 13.