Lawmaker’s car gathers dust in Rayburn garage

There’s a low-tech form of carbon dating going on in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building parking garage as fellow parkers try to determine how long Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.) can leave his car there without moving it.

Some simply write “WASH ME” in the thick layer of black soot that has settled on McCrery’s prized burgundy Taurus.

But Capitol Hill types can’t leave it at that, and some have started trying to establish a baseline for how long a car can go without a bath.

As of last week, new messages were spotted in the dust. One of the more realistic inscriptions sets it at “7-13-07.”

Others appear to be gaming the system with dates in the much earlier part of this millennium.

ITK tracked the car to McCrery by cracking the cryptic code on the Louisiana license plate: “LA H4.” We knew we were on the right track when mentions of a dust-covered jalopy elicited peals of laughter from the office of Louisiana’s 4th congressional district.

“He just won’t part with the car,” explains a staffer, who notes that McCrery and another staffer head to the garage to “crank it” every few months.

An enterprising person has offered to take it off the congressman’s hands, tucking a note with a phone number under the driver’s side wiper reading, “Do you want to sell? Call Louie.”


Foley steps out socially in Palm Beach

For the first time since a sex scandal involving a page forced his abrupt resignation in 2006, former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) made a splash this past Friday night at a party at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago mansion. The event: a charity-gala opening of Palm Beach Fashion Week.

As first reported by the Palm Beach Post, guests were falling over Foley in praise — he even out-buzzed The Donald and Scott Stapp, lead singer for the now-defunct Creed. The hometown newspaper referred to him as the “beau of the ball.”

Foley remarked: “This is the first time I’m back at Mar-a-Lago in two years. It feels good. People have been wonderful to me. Thank God that I worked hard for these people. I think they recognize I did so much for the community, and I’m thankful for that.”

Foley, who renewed his real estate license last year, is selling homes. He claims to be alcohol-free. No word on whether he has cleaned up his other problem, his penchant for texting explicit messages to teenage boys.

For the time being, he has eyes for just one man, dermatologist Layne Nisenbaum. The couple have been spotted at Café L’Europe.

A D.C. lobbyist who has close ties to Foley recently remarked, “Well, I don’t think he’s guzzling champagne on Worth Avenue. He clearly isn’t the most employable ex-member and he needs to spend some time thinking about where and how he can engage in the process.”

The lobbyist added: “Mark is an incredibly savvy policymaker. He knows how deals get cut and he knows the process. There is a role for him in our world. An employer will emerge and it will likely be for a less-than-public advisory role.”


Drake is pro-Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie bailed on an Oscar party where Jennifer Aniston appeared last week, ruining what would have been the first face-to-face confrontation between the pair. But she still has a big fan in Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.), who hails Brad Pitt’s other half as a knowledgeable U.N. goodwill ambassador.

In a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) late last week, Drake praised Jolie and urged Skelton to invite “Ms. Jolie to testify” before the committee on the humanitarian aspects of the conflict in Iraq.

Drake said Jolie’s perspective on Iraq’s security situation has “gone largely unnoticed by the mainstream press.”


Glamour’s fashion detail to show up at conventions

To those attending the presidential conventions in Minneapolis and Denver, heed this warning: Dress well, or you could become a fashion victim in Glamour magazine’s infamous “Do’s and Don’ts” photographic montage. You know, the pages in which those committing the worst of fashion crimes have their eyes blacked out by a single dark strip. Of course, those dressing well will also be highlighted for their fashion sense.


Rosalynn Carter to appear at presser

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter will appear at a press conference on the Cannon Terrace Wednesday at 1 p.m. in support of the Mental Health and Addiction Equity Bill, which is expected to be voted on that day.

Carter is set to appear alongside the bill’s proponents, who include Reps. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), both recovering alcoholics. Also on hand will be David Wellstone, son of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), who first championed the legislation.


When allergies attack, Sen. Kerry gets all choked up

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) could barely catch his breath between coughing fits at a recent press conference detailing his recess-week trip to the Middle East.

Kerry twice resorted to the last-ditch tactic of slapping his chest in order to get air into his lungs during separate coughing bouts. At one point, he seemed to have collected himself, hiking up his pants through his pockets and drawing a breath. But he quickly fell into another round of coughs, enduring six attacks in approximately five minutes.

ITK asked whether he had brought a cold home from his trip.

“No, I didn’t get a cold on the trip,” he said. “Allergies.”


Communications on Durbin’s mind

Upon entering the Senate Daily Press Gallery recently for an informal chat with reporters, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) stopped to marvel at the room’s nine old-fashioned telephone booths.

He reminisced about the days when people would use phone booths so that they could hold conversations in private.

Now “people stand in the middle of the airports on their cell phones and talk about everything,” he said.

Apparently Durbin is paying close attention to all forms of communication these days, as he later remarked on one of his colleague’s use of the U.S. Postal Service. Referring to a complaint by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) that he hadn’t had a chance to read the Senate housing bill, Durbin remarked: “I don’t know where Sen. Kyl’s mail delivery has broken down.”

Sen. Obama addresses issue of boxers vs. briefs

Then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton answered it on MTV in 1992. Now the question — Do you prefer boxers or briefs? — is back again and with a vengeance for Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who addresses the issue in the latest edition of Us Weekly.

Unlike Clinton, who said he prefers boxers, Obama evaded the question, saying, “I don’t answer those humiliating questions. But whichever one it is, I look good in ’em!”