John McCaslin

"Regarding Vice President Dick Cheney and his mysterious foot - ahem, big toe - ailment, I'm convinced he's got the gout," says John K. Putney, assistant vice president of McGuire Woods Consulting in Richmond, who previously toiled as Republican Sen. George Allen's Northern Virginia aide.

"The White House's rationale for not disclosing the condition? The liberal press will shriek, 'Aha! The King's Disease!'?" Putney tells The Beltway Beat. "Of course, they will work overtime to further portray Cheney as an elitist: one-half of the 'Bush-Cheney Monarchy.'"

Putney reveals that he, too, is "cursed with this condition."

"It is a brutal, at times completely debilitating ailment. And there is a real stigma associated with it. But Cheney certainly fits the profile," he said.

As its nickname suggests, gout was formerly associated with kings and nobles, their sedentary lives made richer by diet and drink - thus the King's Disease. The cause is uric acid crystals deposited in the joints, especially the big toe. Leading culprits are foods high in uric acid, especially liver, kidney, tripe and tongue.


Who said brainy types in Washington walk around in thick-rimmed glasses wearing calculators on their belts?

Rest assured, they unwind. And in ways you might not expect.

We've just finished reading the January 2006 "Official Newsletter of Metropolitan Washington Mensa" - the international society of persons who have scored above the 98th percentile on a standard IQ test. Get a load (no pun intended) of one of this month's intriguing Mensa events, as featured in the newsletter:

"January is 'full auto' month. This month only we will be at Select-Fire in Glen Burnie, Md., which is between Baltimore and D.C. Semi and full auto UZIs, MK5s, Stens & Thompsons are available for around $45 each and come with between 90 and 96 rounds in three pre-loaded magazines, which can go pretty fast. Additional pre-loaded magazines cost $15. Select-Fire also rents other firearms. Wheelchair accessible. Free parking. Be sure to bring an extra pair of underwear."


"Are you enjoying the confirmation hearings? We are real proud to have Mr. Biden as the official Windbag of Delaware."

So reads an unexpected note attached to a work invoice sent to this columnist the other day by a plumbing company in Delaware, referring to the Democratic senator from the state, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and this week's contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearings surrounding the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court.

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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