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Also a Flotation Device?

Groups lobbying Congress often hand out swag, be it a personalized coffee mug or T-shirt, supporting their cause. But the Coalition for Airline Passengers’ Bill of Rights has topped HOH’s list of the most creative souvenirs to get its point across — astronaut diapers, which the coalition cleverly labeled, so as not to be confused with something else. The parting gift was given at the coalition’s “Strand In” on the National Mall on Wednesday, when they set up a makeshift airplane cabin made out of a gray tarp, folding chairs and a sound system pumping out ambient plane noise like babies crying to simulate the passengers’ experiences when they are stranded aboard planes. [IMGCAP(1)]

Along with the preplanned ambience, the group handed out a passenger’s “emergency kit,” which it describes as “the perfect gift for any loved one who is planning to travel.” The kit includes a protein bar, an SOS sign to hold in your airplane window, water germicidal tablets to treat non-drinking water from the plane’s bathroom, and a disposable camera to take pictures of all the chaos. It also comes with instructions on using a large T-shirt and garbage bags to create makeshift diapers for those long waits on the tarmac when you just can’t hold it anymore — and don’t have your astronaut diaper with you, of course. Just when we were wondering what to put on our holiday wish list.

Lights, Camera, Stall. New York Sen. Charles Schumer (D) has never been accused of acting like a shrinking violet, especially when a television camera is near. But the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman, who recently revamped his press shop, had the Capitol Hill press corps stumped as they waited for his press briefing following his meeting with President Bush’s attorney general pick, retired Judge Michael Mukasey, on Tuesday afternoon — first patiently, then not so patiently, then an hour and half later wondering what the heck was going on.

While surely Schumer and Mukasey had a lot to catch up on — after all, Schumer suggested the judge in the first place — they couldn’t have that much to talk about. There was speculation that the camera-ready Senator wasn’t about to give up his photo-op with Mukasey, even if it meant keeping the busy AG candidate and reporters waiting while his press aide, Brian Fallon, ushered in a tardy photographer from Schumer’s hometown paper, The New York Times, halfway through the chat.

Schumer kept the clock ticking — and the press corps waiting — for another 45 minutes.

Fallon said of the epic meeting: “It was a very important meeting, the first time they had sat down, and the Senator took it seriously. Any inconvenience to reporters we regret.”

Sounds like a gabfest HOH would like to be in on.

Always a Candidate. Getting on the same list as adjustable breast implants and the incredible shrinking cocktail might not seem like a calling card for Congress, but don’t tell that to Eric Massa. Named to the 2007 Esquire 100, Massa, a retired Navy commander and former top aide to retired Gen. Wesley Clark who again is trying to unseat New York Rep. Randy Kuhl (R), sees being the only politician on the list as a “great honor.”

While the list is in no certain order, Esquire deems him “No. 35: Eric Massa, the Angry Citizen.” That doesn’t appear to have rattled Kuhl. “I think this article does a fantastic job of showing Eric as a career Congressional candidate,” said Kuhl spokeswoman Meghan Tisinger. “I just wonder if Mr. Massa is upset about being beaten by adjustable breast implants and the dirtiest secret in Nevada.”

Citizen Craig. “The Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson has made his virtual way around the country, getting honorary citizenship in states such as North Dakota, Tennessee and Alaska. Now the Scottish comedian is taking his shtick to Capitol Hill.

Ferguson, who’s made his quest to become a U.S. citizen part of his act, will be touring the Capitol today and meeting with Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown (D) and George Voinovich (R) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) before attending the USO World Gala tonight, where he’ll present the Soldier of the Year award. Ferguson went on a USO tour last Thanksgiving in Bahrain and says the visit “is a great chance to cram for my citizenship test.” The comedian has submitted an application for citizenship but is still waiting for a test date.

Last Call. Capitol Hill staffers who are longtime regulars at Capitol Lounge have been able to count on seeing Tony Tomelden behind the bar. But Tomelden, who is affectionately known as “Tony T,” is ending his decade-long gig at Cap Lounge in the next couple of weeks, according to an HOH tipster.

Tony T is going to work full time at The Pug, a bar in the up-and-coming H Street Northeast corridor. Stop by the bar Sundays and Mondays if you’d like to toss back a final cocktail with Tony T.

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