Driving Miss Dozey

Just when the lack of media coverage lulled them out of crisis mode, the makers of Ambien were jolted awake yesterday when a member of America’s most famous families fingered the sleep medication for his traffic accident near the Captiol Building “on his way to vote” at 2:45 in the morning(!).

Patrick Kennedy, the sleep-driving Congressman from Rhode Island and son of the deep-driving Senator from Massachusetts, initially released a short statement denying that alcohol consumption had anything to do with his early morning motoring mishap.

In fact, PR man Jim Graham sent me a note drawing attention to the story and commending Rep. Kennedy’s PR person for his (seemingly) deft handling of a supposed minor traffic accident:

“I was involved in a traffic incident last night at First and C Street SE near the U.S. Capitol,” Rep. Kennedy said in a written statement. “I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident. I will fully cooperate with the Capitol Police in whatever investigation they choose to undertake.”

Mr. Graham wrote: “I think this is near flawless. Admit you were involved. Quell any potential of a rumor relating to alcohol. Confirm that you’re cooperating with the investigation.” Of course, this was all before the drug-infused details emerged in the second write of the story. (I hate when that happens!) Mr. Graham (and I) thus retract any kudos we were prepared to bestow upon the Congressman’s PR rep.

As far as Ambien, well, it’s back in the news in a context that even the best-known crisis preparedness experts couldn’t have predicted. Hey, it could have been worse: what if Tom Cruise was behind the wheel?