John McCaslin

"Several empty frames" are all that's left.

A source within the White House tells Inside the Beltway that several poster-size official photographs snapped during eight years of George W. Bush's presidency are missing. Before his departure, the photos once adorned the walls of offices in the sprawling White House complex.

The mostly candid photographs of Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other White House officials were to be archived and preserved along with the additional artifacts of Mr. Bush's presidency, the source says, until they disappeared in the days before the arrival of Barack Obama.

The Secret Service, the source notes, as with previous presidential transitions, was reminded to be on the lookout for any Bush staff members who might try to leave the White House grounds with concealed photographs, most likely rolled up and secured with rubber bands or in cardboard tubes.

STILL IN CONGRESS

Almost three months after being found guilty of seven felony counts of making false statements, virtually assuring his subsequent failed bid for re-election in November, former Sen. Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican, is still lying low in Congress.

So to speak.

"Ted Stevens is currently residing in Congress, Arizona, at his mother-in-law's ranch," reveals an Inside the Beltway source on Capitol Hill. "He drove a U-Haul there from Washington with the contents of his office … which he is going to store there.

"Ted is also roping cattle … oh my," says the source. "As I understand it, [the former senator] is pretty much just out there unpacking and roping cattle."

The Yavapai County ranch, in the community of Congress (pop. 1,717), would belong to the mother of Catherine Stevens, who last October had taken the witness in defense of her husband — to no avail.

Our source joked that there was probably a lot of Hulk memorabilia in the Alaska senator's boxes, because Mr. Stevens had made it a practice during his long reign on Capitol Hill of wearing an "Incredible Hulk" necktie whenever he went into battle on the Senate floor.

When Hulk's publishing company, Marvel Enterprises, learned of the senator's fondness for the fictional superhero, he was shipped boxes of Hulk paraphernalia, including giant green fists to be worn like boxing gloves.

GOWNS AND COLLARS

Calling President Obama, dog lovers, and all dogs: the seventh annual Sugar & Champagne Affair, hosted by Todd and Ellen Gray of Equinox restaurant and Salamander Resort Spa, will be held Wednesday at the downtown Ritz-Carlton.

"Guests and their dogs will be greeted by the world's finest sparkling wines, champagne and delicious desserts," reads the invitation to the $85 per person (dogs get in free, "no retractable leashes, please") event, although VIPs and top dogs are being begged for $125.

No word on whether the Obamas will have picked out a suitable "Labradoodle or Portuguese water dog for daughters Malia and Sasha in time for the gala, if indeed an invitation was extended to the first family.

The annual event honors Washington Humane Society officers, who work 24 hours a day saving homeless, lost, neglected and abused animals, as well as the society's humane education program that teaches young schoolchildren compassion and respect for animals.

MORTMAN FLIPS

One of Washington's most popular political bloggers is leaving the blogosphere.

Howard Mortman ("Extreme Mortman" as he and his site are better known) is becoming director of communications for C-SPAN, where he will be responsible for the network's relationships with both traditional and online media.

"I look forward to continue working with many of you in this exciting and new nonpartisan, noncommentary basis. I am both thrilled and humbled to be joining C-SPAN and being part of a great American success story," Mr. Mortman states.

His final post: "As for ending this blog, we turn to that old Sephardic proverb — Extreme Mortman: you've read the column, you've seen the show, and now you've lived the blog. One day, we promise, you'll eat the sandwich.

"As Larry Sanders went out saying, 'You may now flip.'"


John McCaslin

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

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