Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) poses on Capitol steps in this Dec. 2, 2011 photo. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Before the fall — Our colleague Paul Kane recalls a happier time for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., before the Illinois Democrat’s recent mystery absence from Congress — his staff says he’s been hospitalized for a “mood disorder” — and before the ethics investigation that now dogs him.

Jackson was “once regarded as a leading candidate to succeed Obama in the Senate and often mentioned as a possible future mayor of Chicago,” Kane reports.

Milestone — Get this woman a gold star — Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) cast her 5,000th consecutive vote (that means perfect attendance since she joined the chamber in 1997).

Mission: Ironic — Sounds like self-loathing — a new super PAC’s mission is to rid the political system of the scourge that is . . . super PACs. Jonathan Soros (yep, George is his dad) formed Friends of Democracy, saying he was well aware of “the irony” of the group’s mission.

Talk is cheap — Lobbyist/felon/author Jack Abramoff adds a new line to his résuméwith a new gig hosting a talk show on Sirius XM Radio.