John McCaslin

On hand for Mr. Swanson's gathering was a representative from Scholastic Books, who told Inside the Beltway that the world's largest publisher and distributor of books for young readers would be condensing Manhunt — the biggest page-turner ever written surrounding the escape, search and capture of Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth — into a children's story.

Earlier, we reported that an HBO mini-series is in the works based on Mr. Swanson's best-seller.

Toss in a brick

When they aren't slinging mud at one another, lawmakers constantly stand on the House floor to recognize the everyday accomplishments of constituents. After all, a congressman faces re-election every two years.

Whether it's the hardware store owner's son attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, an auto-assembly worker attaching his 100,000th tailpipe, or a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, recognizing these otherwise ordinary feats earns a constituent mention in the famed Congressional Record, and a congressman a much-needed vote or two.

"I rise today to congratulate the Denton Acme Brick plant for creating what could be the world's largest brick," Rep. Michael C. Burgess, Texas Republican, stood up to announce last week, right in the middle of debates over Vietnam becoming a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council and the increasing amount of imported Chinese products that are tainted, poisonous or counterfeit.

The congressman informed his divided colleagues that this particular monster brick is 3,000 times larger than an ordinary brick, weighs 6,400 pounds and took 18 months to bake. After Acme obtains the "world's largest" brick recognition from Guinness World Records, it will put the brick on display, and no doubt send a warehouse full of votes the congressman's way.

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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