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The Pumpkin Pie May Fly

By Al Kamen
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Places it might be best to avoid for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow:

The Krongards'. Not a particularly close family -- State Department Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard did, after all, sue his own son and daughter-in-law over a home loan, threatening that their kids would be "on the street" -- and things have clearly taken a turn for the worse.

Cookie's brother, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, former CIA executive director, says he specifically told Cookie of his membership on a Blackwater advisory board. This grievously embarrassed Cookie, who repeatedly and emphatically told the House oversight committee last week that he had no knowledge of this. They weren't real close before, but now . . .

The Bhuttos'. Former prime minister Benazir ("Pinkie," as she was known in college) Bhutto, is sans husband, "Mr. 10 Percent," who's still wanted on corruption charges. Now come to find out niece Fatima Bhutto, in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times last week, writes of the "hijacking of the democratic cause [in Pakistan] by my aunt, the twice-disgraced former prime minister," whose "political posturing is sheer pantomime."

And Fatima, whose father, Benazir's younger brother, was assassinated when auntie was prime minister, writes that she has questions about Benazir's "role" in that.

The Giulianis'. The former New York mayor's son is not speaking to him, and his daughter is working for Obama. Even the Keriks might not stop by this year.

The Craigs'. Getting through a whole dinner might be a bit difficult, what with the likely awkward moments between Sen. Larry and wife Suzanne. But a drop-by might be worthwhile, if only to check how far apart they space the chairs.

Finally, the Vitters. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) might be a bit distracted by that subpoena last week to testify in federal court here about his contacts with the alleged D.C. Madam. And we recall wife Wendy told the press a few years back that she would not be as forgiving as Hillary Rodham Clinton or the wife of former congressman Robert Livingston (R-La.), who admitted to extramarital affairs and quit Congress.

Wendy Vitter said she'd be "a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt." It appears that she, too, has been forgiving, but it's just as well that the senator will be carving the bird.

Radiation Is Not a Toy

Speaking of family matters, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) says he strongly supports legislation to improve protections against unsafe toys.

Barton, at a hearing on the legislation, said he was "going to speak from the heart and from personal experience about why we're here today."

"I think everybody on the subcommittee knows that I have a 2-year-old son, Jack Kevin Barton. There are millions of little Jack Kevin Bartons in the United States," he said, each "precious to their parents."

But "these little tykes are so inquisitive and so adventuresome that you really have to be smart to keep them safe. I'll give you an example: Last weekend my wife had to go run some errands, and while she wasn't sure I was capable of taking care of Jack by myself, I was given that opportunity since we couldn't get a babysitter."

Jack brought him a bag of microwave popcorn he'd gotten from the cupboard. "I was watching a football game. I said, 'No, Jack, your mother doesn't want you to have popcorn. Put it back.' He toddles off.

"I'm watching the game and all of a sudden I hear this 'beep, beep, beep' coming from the kitchen. He had taken the popcorn back into the kitchen . . . pulled the chair over to the built-in microwave, which is about six feet above the floor, climbed up on the chair, opened the microwave, put the popcorn in, figured out how to hit the popcorn button and pushed the darn button.

"Now, it was in the cellophane and the cellophane started popping and burning so I rushed in and of course he was just proud as punch that he had figured out how to do microwave popcorn, even though he didn't know that he was supposed to undo the cellophane.

"That's what we're up against -- 20 or 30 million Jack Kevin Bartons."

(Note to file: Send urgent plea to Terri Barton to redouble her efforts to find a sitter. Copy child-advocacy groups and babysitting services.)

A Spokesman Spills

Looks as though former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new book, coming in April, may be more interesting than we expected. His publisher has posted what it calls an excerpt of "What Happened" on its Web site -- really just six sentences.

But they do tantalize. The micro-excerpt recalls the episode in the CIA leak case in which McClellan inaccurately told reporters that Karl Rove, the president's chief strategist at the time, and Vice President Cheney's then-chief of staff, Scooter Libby, were not involved.

"There was one problem: It was not true," McClellan writes. "I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself."

Hmm. McClellan wouldn't comment yesterday, but it doesn't sound as if he's about to say that President Bush misled him, only that the president was misled, too -- something McClellan told CNN's Larry King in March.

Ashcroft and Nudity, Yet Again

Because of technical difficulties, Web readers of Friday's column were unable to see the photo of former attorney general John D. Ashcroft's reunion with the semi-nude 12-foot statue "The Spirit of Justice," which his aides once had covered with a blue drape. If you're still curious, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/fedpage.

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