Six months after his nomination to be the nation’s top doc triggered fevered objections, James Holsinger just lost his best chance to finally get the job.

Holsinger, a Kentucky public-health physician who once wrote that homosexual sex is unnatural and can lead to death, has been cooling his heels since his Senate confirmation hearing in July, when he was flayed by Democrats and other gay-rights advocates for those views.

Holsinger’s backers in the Bush administration had hoped President Bush would quietly bypass the Democratic-controlled Senate and put Holsinger in the surgeon-general post as a “recess” appointment when Congress goes home for the holidays.

But just before senators left for Thanksgiving on Friday, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada foiled those plans by declaring the Senate to be in “pro forma” session, meaning there will be no official recess but also no formal proceedings.

Turkey sales this year are forecast to bring U.S. farmers nearly $4 billion — far more than the receipts from sales of domestically produced rice, peanuts and tobacco, according to the Department of Agriculture.

In all, the U.S. Census Bureau reports, about 272 million turkeys will have been raised nationwide this year. Americans consume an average of about 13 pounds of turkey each year.

New turkey trend: “heritage” turkeys, descendents of the original birds native to the continent. Only about 300 small turkey farms breed the old-fashioned birds, which are free-range and raised without growth-promoting food and additives. They also can cost up to $20 a pound.

Unless one happens to have a wreck and leave an oil spill, ships generally don’t get much attention as a contributor to environmental problems. But a new study by researchers at the University of Delaware finds that air pollution from ships is responsible for some 60,000 deaths a year, mostly from heart attacks and cancer.

That estimate is based on 2002 ship inventories, atmospheric models and the health impact of particulates that spew from the ships’ stacks.

The deaths are concentrated along the coastlines of Europe and East and South Asia, and are expected to increase by as much as 40 percent by 2012 as world ship traffic grows.

What may be the first cocktail poll of this presidential campaign season is under way in Washington. The downtown D.C. Lotus Lounge has cranked up a “Pick the POTUS at Lotus” promotion. (POTUS is shorthand for “president of the United States,” an acronym favored by many in the media and on the Hill.)

Some of the drinks offered, with the winner being the one whose cocktail is most popular:

— The Milk Dodd (brandy, creme de cacao, half-and-half and nutmeg), a white brew that matches Chris Dodd’s hair.

— An Apple Martini, for Rudolph Giuliani

— The Law and Order (Jack Daniels and Coke), for Fred Thompson

— The Impeachment (Stoli peach vodka, a splash of orange juice), for Dennis Kucinich.

— The Hillartini, a cosmopolitan that is “pink and feminine but strong and bold.”

One of the little-known perks of Capitol Hill will take another step closer to oblivion Jan. 1. That’s when the Democrats have decreed that cigarettes and cigars will no longer be sold in shops in Senate office buildings or the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol.

For decades, smokes could be had at a substantial discount from the prices at District of Columbia stores nearby. But Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., and other smoking foes persuaded the Senate Rules Committee to ban the practice.

On the House side, cigarettes are still on sale and lawmakers can smoke in their offices, although new rules bar everyone else from smoking within 25 feet of any House office building.

(E-mail Lisa Hoffman at hoffmanl(at)