No Ifs, Ands or Butts: Hitchens Calls It Quits

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, January 17, 2008

That bit of hell frozen over? Courtesy of raffish provocateur Christopher Hitchens, who's given up his beloved cigarettes -- cold turkey.

In an interview with the Financial Times published last week, Hitchens casually announced he'd quit smoking: "I got up yesterday morning in Madison, Wisconsin, and I just threw my pack away," he said. New leaf for the new year? Turns out the interview took place last fall; he actually kicked the habit in October and has been smoke-free for three months.

How? "Fear," he told us. "I had smoked enough in my life."

Why? "He wants to live," said his wife, Carol Blue. "Live to see his political enemies defeated."

Hitchens, 58, took his first drag when he was 15, and for decades was rarely without a drink in one hand and a Rothmans in the other. He puffed between bites at meals, in the shower, while shaving. The toll this took finally dawned on him while on a book tour last year, when he'd chain-smoke 18 hours a day. "It's obvious no one can go on like that," he said. "The rational part of my brain kicked in and said, 'You must do something.' "

Hitchens's previous attempts to quit (patches, classes, etc.) were unsuccessful, but he says this time he woke up, tossed his last cigarette and hasn't really wanted one since. Must feel great, huh? "It doesn't work that way," he said. "Only my mouth feels better."

Stephen Colbert, Hangin' With the Bigwigs

Stephen Colbert has enlisted dozens of congressfolk to play along with his TV shtick -- and now the National Portrait Gallery?

Yesterday, the downtown institution enshrined the Comedy Central mock-commentator on its august walls -- or, at least, hung an old prop portrait of him in a prime spot by the second-floor bathrooms. "The Colbert Report" had a running gag about getting the portrait into the Smithsonian; American History wouldn't bite, but the Portrait Gallery agreed to hang it as a joke for the next six weeks.

So . . . basically this guy's even savvier than Borat with the publicity stunts, huh? Should the Smithsonian be helping him? "We love the idea of a conversation about who gets into the Portrait Gallery," said gallery rep Bethany Bentley. Plus, he's got a lot of viewers: "It gives us a chance to interest a new generation."

Don't fear, purists: While Colbert now hangs just steps away from the gallery of presidents, he's not in the permanent collection.


Date-setting: Jenna Bush and Henry Hager, who have decided after all to deny us a White House wedding in favor of a more private affair at the family ranch in Texas. A source close to the Bushes told us last night they will wed May 10, 2008.

Splitting: Eddie Murphy and Tracey Edmonds, just two weeks after their Bora Bora wedding, which turned out to not be legally binding in the U.S.; now plans to make it official are off. Trouble started on the honeymoon, reports People, with Murphy publicly yelling at his bride. In a joint statement released yesterday, the two say they will remain "friends."

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

Ben Affleck, roaming around the House of Representatives gallery yesterday. Promoting a future run for office? Nope: "Doing research," as they say, for a role. He'll play a congressman in the movie that was supposed to star Brad Pitt but will instead star Russell Crowe -- "State of Play." The actor (gray suit, blue shirt, no tie) also caught up with Nancy Pelosi for a chat.


"My girlfriend Camila and I made a baby together. It's 3 months growin in her womb and all looks healthy and lively so far. We are stoked and wowed by this miracle of creation and this gift from God . . ."

-- Matthew McConaughey, sharing some blessed news with fans on his blog. We're just stoked and wowed to learn that Matthew McConaughey has a blog.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company