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Cookie’s Story Crumbles

It was a case of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” during a hearing yesterday in which State Department Inspector General Howard “Cookie” Krongard first insisted his brother wasn’t a member of security contractor Blackwater’s advisory board, then reversed course, ultimately recusing himself from Blackwater matters because of his sibling’s connection to the controversial company.

[IMGCAP(1)]Krongard first seemed to put the issue to rest when he denied the connection at a hearing of Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday morning.

But the embattled IG was caught completely flat-footed when Democrats produced a July 26 e-mail from Blackwater CEO Erik Prince thanking Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard for accepting an invitation to become a member of the Blackwater Worldwide Advisory Board, which met this week at a Williamsburg, Va., hotel. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) appeared to surprise Krongard when he mentioned that Buzzy had a reservation at said hotel. Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) further piled on by pointing out that Democrats had confirmed that Buzzy was indeed the inn’s guest.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell confirmed to HOH that Buzzy was indeed a member of Blackwater’s advisory board. HOH tried to reach Buzzy at the hotel, but he already had checked out. After a brief break in the hearing, Krongard announced that he had reached his brother at home and that he would have to recuse himself from the multiple probes involving Blackwater for allegedly using deadly force in the shooting of Iraqi civilians. Sounds like the brothers might need to chat more often.

Tardy Slip. Holding open votes for lollygagging members of Congress is no laughing matter, according House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

The Maryland Democrat took lawmakers to task Wednesday for causing delays in the House, saying get to the votes on time, no excuses. To which Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) stood up to complain, saying “That means you’ve got to do something about the elevators.”

Hoyer’s rebuttal: The Hawaii lawmaker should plan an extra 10 minutes to get there in time.

WWGD? It’s not that Rep. Louie Gohmert is against naming “Emancipation Hall” as part of the new Capitol Visitor Center, per se, he just wants to make sure that God isn’t left in the cold. The Texas Republican, who raised heck over the Architect of the Capitol’s policy to remove “God” from flag certificates recently, again took up the torch on the House floor Tuesday night.

Gohmert bemoaned the lack of Godliness in the CVC, which he has pushed for in the past by co-sponsoring a bill that would make the “In God We Trust” motto be prominently displayed in the entrance. Last night he lambasted the CVC’s decision to turn the Washington Monument capstone that reads “Laus Deo,” which is Latin for “Praise be to God,” so visitors can’t see it. While Gohmert was more than happy to support naming the Great Hall “Emancipation Hall,” he told Members not to forget “God, who made it all possible.”

Burning Questions. Forget judging them on their policy positions and trustworthiness. The real test of a presidential candidate: Would you want to share your turkey with them? Expect them to give you a thoughtful Christmas gift? Let them baby-sit your kid while you’re out Christmas shopping?

According to a new poll of women by Lifetime Networks, 31 percent of Democratic women most want Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and her family to be guests at their Thanksgiving dinner, while former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, at 22 percent, led the Republican field for most popular holiday guest. A bunch of folks, though, aren’t anxious to have any of the presidential wannabes at their tables. “Approximately one-fifth of women polled do not want the extra company this holiday season and would prefer to dine with their families alone,” the poll found. (Not to mention that their stump speeches over pumpkin pie might be even more boring than Uncle Fred’s war stories.)

Clinton and Giuliani also led their respective parties when respondents were polled on who they thought would give the most thoughtful gifts and who they’d want to baby-sit their kids.

Oh, Boy! It’s a little bundle of boy-joy for Rob Collins, chief of staff for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and his wife, Susan Collins, who welcomed their first baby on Oct. 19. Little Patrick John Collins weighed 7 pounds, 2 ounces, and the Family Collins is doing well, reports Cantor spokeswoman Rachel Bauer.

Rachel Van Dongen and Elizabeth Brotherton contributed to this report.

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