Rep. Conyers votes no on organ donors

And the ayes have it: 407 to 1.

The subject? An organ donor bill called the Charlie W. Norwood Living Kidney Donation Clarification Act. The bill, written in honor of the late Rep. Charles Norwood (R-Ga.), himself a lung transplant recipient, clarifies that a procedure known as paired organ donation is legal.

But one vote was mistakenly cast: that of House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), who voted no on the bill that seemed to be a sure bet for unanimous consent.

Conyers’s office assured ITK that there was no bad blood between Conyers and Norwood before he died. Conyers had certainly intended to vote yes.

A Judiciary Committee spokesman said the chairman voted against the bill by mistake and will be submitting a statement to the record to reflect that.


 Some Jewish lawmakers do Hanukkah, others don’t

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) was mildly stunned by a question about what is the best present he will give for Hanukkah this year. “I don’t know,” he said last week, explaining that Hanukkah isn’t exactly a major gift-giving holiday.

Not so in the household of Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), whose husband is giving her a 2008 Smart Car, a brand-new Chrysler two-seater that gets 40 miles to the gallon. She ordered the car in black with silver accents, but admitted having a tough time choosing between that option and the metallic blue.

“Given the fact that I have no money, it will be from him,” she said of her husband, Larry Lehrner, a physician. In return, she is giving him new suits from Saks Fifth Avenue — which, she says, he desperately needs.

“He’s starting to look a little tattered, so I’m going to have to fix him up,” she said. “I’m really good on what fits. He prefers blue. I’m hoping to come out with two good outfits.”


Radio reporter shuts down Capitol hallway

Todd Zwillich, a radio reporter for Capitol News Connection/Public Radio International who does NPR’s “Power Breakfast” segment, had the most embarrassing moment of his Capitol Hill career last week.

Oh, but he’s a good sport about it.

Last Thursday morning, he had to cover the Senate leadership elections and then run to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) weekly briefing. But by the time Zwillich arrived, he was late and it was crowded. “It’s just a sardine situation,” he said, explaining why he left his radio bag full of 15 feet of wire and batteries outside in the hallway with TV crew equipment.

The TV crews collected their equipment and off they went. But Zwillich forgot and went on about his day without his bag. The reporter was also late for House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) briefing and tardy for a House vote — he was running from event to event and trying to think two steps ahead of himself.

On his way to the House vote, Capitol Police stopped him and told him the hallway outside the main chamber House door had been shut down due to a suspicious bag. Police stopped everyone, including lawmakers, from entering the hallway during a “10-100,” which is police code for “suspicious package.”

A dozen officers flooded the hall, and Zwillich started to get “that sinking feeling.”

After describing his bag to about four different officers, they determined that it was, in fact, his.

“I said to the Capitol Police officer, ‘Is this all because of me?’ And he said, ‘Yep,’ and my heart sank,” Zwillich said.

After X-raying and searching the bag, police returned it to Zwillich, who said the cops couldn’t have been more kind about his mistake — “not a second of anger, not a second of suspicion.”



Mia Farrow protests Darfur at Chinese Embassy

It was protest central outside the Chinese Embassy Monday afternoon, complete with lit torches and actresses — Mia Farrow and “The West Wing’s” Melissa Fitzgerald.

“Obama has Oprah; we have Mia,” said the emcee of the Save Darfur event as he announced Farrow to the podium.

The Darfur protest also had an unexpected attendance of Human Rights for Vietnam protesters, who at certain points out-chanted the Darfur protesters, generating anger among the crowd.

Farrow was dressed in dark jeans, a gray parka with a fur-lined collar, gray leg warmers and a woolen cap, and wore no makeup. She announced what she was there to do with a T-shirt that asked, “Genocide Olympics?”

Having just returned from her seventh trip to Darfur, the actress said members of Congress are “mostly receptive” to the cause of stopping the killings in Darfur. “But they have got to do more.”

Farrow was the last speaker. Event organizers made sure to offer her the vegetarian box lunch. The actress acknowledged that she is a vegetarian. “Not out of any conviction,” she said. “I just prefer it.”

At the podium, she looked out onto the crowd in the rain and declared, “As the world watches, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been killed. China has been underwriting the killings.”


Jeff Gannon:  ‘Disturbingly reasonable’

The former White House correspondent who worked under the pseudonym Jeff Gannon for the conservative Talon News website between 2003 and 2005 participated in Columbia’s “Friendly Fire Series” last week to discuss his new book, The Great Media War: A Battlefield Report. Gannon, born James Dale Guckert, quit working for the website in 2005 after it was revealed he was allegedly listed on various homosexual escort-services websites.

“I delivered a thought-provoking performance that prompted one student to declare that I was disturbingly reasonable,” Gannon said of the one-on-one interview with students.

Added Gannon: “That is a frequent reaction when I have the opportunity to speak for myself. The reality that I represent is so disparate from the image created by my critics that it causes people to distrust their sources of information. For some, that is quite disturbing.”


‘Boston Legal’ takes on Sen. Craig story

Last week’s episode of “Boston Legal” was ripped straight from the salacious headlines of Sen. Larry Craig’s (R-Idaho) June arrest. Denny Crane (played by William Shatner), a senior founding partner of the firm, gets arrested for tapping his toe beneath a stall in a men’s restroom. Crane, who mimicked the infamous wide stance, goes to trial and is ultimately found not guilty.

James Spader, who plays Crane’s lawyer and best friend, Alan Shore, brings up Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) in the closing argument. His argument: Vitter got away with his “crime” because it was with a female prostitute, whereas Craig got into trouble because his disorderly conduct involved a man.



Rep. McCrery discusses  his ‘bookie’

It’s not every day that you can get a congressman to talk about his bookie. Especially not Republicans from the Deep South, like Rep. Jim McCrery (La.).

But at the National Press Club last week, the scribes peppering McCrery with tax questions seemed to grow weary of mind-numbing number talk, and discussion turned to college football. In particular, one reporter asked about Louisiana State University’s good fortune in winning a berth in the Bowl Championship Series championship game.

McCrery acknowledged he had placed a bet or two in his day — his “day” being about 30 years ago. And he confessed he wasn’t very good. He was such a profitable client that his bookie took a personal interest.

“I used to bet on football,” McCrery called. “If I didn’t call my bookie, he would call me.”



Sighting: MacAuliffe  — ringside in Las Vegas

Terry MacAuliffe, chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) presidential campaign, was spotted sitting ringside on Saturday night at the Floyd Mayweather prizefight in Las Vegas. Sitting in MacAuliffe’s midst were Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Oscar de la Hoya, Jude Law, Spike Lee, Will Ferrell and Denzel Washington.

“He’s a boxing fan and boxing fans caucus too,” said Tracy Sefl, McAuliffe’s spokeswoman, in reference to Nevada’s Democratic presidential caucus scheduled for Jan. 19.