Duke’s Diet

Posted September 27, 2005 at 6:45pm

Call it the “FBI target” diet. The new weight-loss fad is certainly working for Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.). Have you seen him lately?

Cunningham, who’s facing a federal probe over his ties to a federal contractor, was overheard on the House floor Tuesday bragging to another Member that he’s lost 60 pounds and is wearing a 34-inch waist for the first time in years and years. [IMGCAP(1)]

The HOH informant remarked, “He looked thinner but also like he hasn’t slept in days.” The source added, “Maybe Kirstie Alley should get investigated!” (The self-described Fat Actress has indeed shed some pounds recently, but we’re aware of no investigations pending against her.)

Cunningham’s chief of staff, Harmony Allen, did not go so far as to attribute the weight loss to his federal corruption investigation, or to any stress that might accompany it. Nor is he doing one of those trendy, expensive diets (unless you count the indirect effects of paying all those lawyers’ bills).

Nope, he’s just watching what he eats and walking more. “His blood pressure is down and his cholesterol is right where it needs to be,” Allen told HOH.

Cunningham is under a federal corruption investigation for his business dealings and financial arrangements with, among others, defense contractor Mitchell Wade, the guy who bought Cunningham’s home at an eyebrow-raising $700,000 loss. A third round of raids in the probe recently ensnared Long Island developer Thomas Kontogiannis, who pleaded guilty back in 2002 to bribery and kickback charges.

Cunningham, who has announced he’ll retire next year, has denied any wrongdoing. But at least he’ll be a fit man whenever he gets his day in court. Allen had this warning: “He’s back to his old fighter-pilot weight and he is not ruling out getting back into the cockpit after he retires. As I am sure you are aware, Duke likes a good fight — if it’s not the daily fight with Democrats, he might have to go back to shooting down MiGs.”

Whiskey … If you like whiskey blends, imagine a blend of a little of each of these: Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey, George Dickel, Virginia Gentleman, Platte Valley, Rebel Yell, Very Old Barton and Woodford Reserve.

Feeling nauseous? Go home after work. Intrigued? Head to Mount Vernon tonight (if you can score an invitation) and you’ll have a unique opportunity to buy one of these rare bottles of George Washington Distillery Vatted Whiskey — and not feel guilty about it. Proceeds will go to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army in Louisiana and Catholic Charities of Texas to benefit hurricane victims.

The auction is being hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the Spirits Wholesalers of America at the very site where George Washington distilled his own whiskey in the late 1790s. Mount Vernon, with contributions from the spirits associations, has been working to excavate and restore Washington’s distillery with plans to open it as a museum to the public in the near future.

Tonight, the groups are auctioning off 250 commemorative bottles of the special blend, which comes in an authentic, hand-blown replica of a 1788 case bottle, for a minimum bid of $250.

… Or Wine? Hey, if rare whiskey isn’t your bag, perhaps rare wine is. And, again — no guilt, really — the money will go to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund.

The Congressional Wine Caucus and the California State Society have wooed the premier wine auctioneer, Fritz Hatton, to get on the block at a mostly silent auction Oct. 5, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at 101 Constitution Avenue, on the 11th floor.

Tickets will go for a minimum contribution of $20 at the door or, for the well-heeled wine enthusiast, $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000.

Among the silent auction items: three magnums of Oakville Ranch Cabernet — a ’98 Reserve Cab, a ’99 and a 2000; three double-magnums from Joseph Phelps; eight magnums from Turley Cellars; 36 magnums of various Napa wines, including Insignia, Le Mistral and Backus Vineyard; and an insider’s tour of Napa Valley.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.