John McCaslin

Because the St. Jude Medical Foundation underwrites the Larry King Cardiac Foundation's annual fundraising dinner in Washington, every dollar spent by guests goes directly to treatment for patients. Which ought to make performances Saturday night at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington by Seal (no word on whether the singer's Victoria's Secret supermodel wife Heidi Klum will be in attendance — we're told she's heading from Los Angeles to Europe) and comedian Darrell Hammond even more enjoyable.

This weekend's gala marks the 20th anniversary of the foundation, hosted by CNN's talk-show host Larry King and his wife, Shawn.

Chrysler chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli is this year's Gerald S. Snyder Heart Award recipient. On hand to present the honors will be Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, whose father is namesake for the annual tribute.

Guests attending Saturday night's gala can also look forward to video tributes from Dr. Phil, Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa, the women of "The View," and NBC's Tim Russert.

Sorry about that

It was 208 years ago that President John Adams approved the appropriation of $5,000 for the purpose of "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress."

As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recalls today, the library was set up in what is now the reception area of his leadership office.

"The original collection included just 740 volumes and three maps, which were stored right here in the Capitol," he notes. "When British troops burned the Capitol building in 1814, they used the books and maps of the library to ignite the flames, and all 3,000 volumes of the collections were destroyed."

An amused Mr. McConnell hasn't forgotten the day when then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed a joint session of Congress and "he visited the leader's suite and told then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that although it was coming a bit late, he was sorry for the fire incident."

The library remains the largest in the world, with a staff of more than 3,500 and holding more than 138 million items — books and maps to sheet music.

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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