John McCaslin

While he's in New York for the Republican National Convention, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, host of "After Hours" on the Fox News Channel, is staying with the Illinois delegation at the DoubleTree Times Square Hotel.

In fact, Mr. Thomas is a regular guest at the hotel while taping his show.

"At breakfast this morning, I noticed something missing," Thomas tells The Beltway Beat. "It was the Heinz ketchup in those little, miniature bottles. I asked one of the waiters what happened to the ketchup.

"He said quietly, 'Oh, we took it out because we were afraid the delegates might be offended. But I'll get you some.'

"As he went into the kitchen and brought out one of the little bottles, a supervisor came over and said, 'Here's what you want.' It was a small cup with ketchup in it. No label. He was smiling.' "


It takes under five minutes to read James Carville's new book, "Lu and the Swamp Ghost."

After all, it's the outspoken Democratic political consultant's first book for children, officially released this week and inspired by an episode in the Louisiana childhood of Carville's mother, Lucille (known as "Miz Nippy").

And to make sure children hear the story with the correct inflections, the book comes packaged with a CD read by Carville in his distinctive voice.

Miz Nippy, to tell a bit of the ghostly tale, grew up in southern Louisiana during the Great Depression. One day she is out checking her papa's turkey traps in the cypress woods and comes across someone - or something - covered head to toe in mud. She heard about the swamp ghost who gobbles up nosy little girls, but this is the first time she came face-to-face with one of the creatures.

Obviously, Carville is living proof that his mother wasn't swallowed whole, but the story is an intriguing one nonetheless.


Children of Secret Service agents greet their fathers no differently than other children in Washington, or so we gather from the official White House pool report.

As President Bush bowed to pray at St. John's Episcopal Church on an otherwise-sleepy August Sunday morning, the still of the sanctuary was broken by a boisterous toddler who yelled "Dada" to a Secret Service agent and made a brief run at the presidential pew before his mother scooped him up.


"Two D.C. guys gone Hollywood!"

Or so best-selling author and former Washingtonian Brad Meltzer tells The Beltway Beat of his latest gig: co-creator of the new TV show "Jack & Bobby," premiering Sept. 12 on the WB network.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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