WASHINGTON — With an atypical audience – members of Congress – actor and director Ben Affleck read from a script with a pointed message: A desperate humanitarian situation in Congo requires a stronger display of U.S. leadership, and it will get worse without one.

Glancing down at prepared testimony, Affleck told the House Armed Services Committee that he had traveled to Congo regularly in recent years, seeing both the effects of violence and the potential of the African country.

He called for the U.S. to show moral leadership in the region, saying it didn’t require a deep investment of taxpayer money.

“They deserve better than this cycle of violence and upheaval,” he said of the people of Congo.
“Without persistent, high-level leadership by the United States, the key players will not come to the table and do their part,” he said.

Affleck said the U.S. should lead an effort to reshape the United Nations’ role in the region. Despite a U.N. presence in the country for 15 years, and a major peacekeeping operation in the country, a rebel group called the M23 has operated in eastern Congo, terrorizing the region.

Affleck was one of five witnesses – and the only one asked to pose for pictures by starry-eyed aides – to testify to the committee about Congo. The African country of about 68 million people has seen an estimated 5 million people killed since a second regional war began there in 1997.

State Department officials have described the situation in Congo as the most volatile in Africa.

The “Argo” star told the committee he planned to travel to Congo again next year. His place at the committee table among academic experts and government officials came through his experience founding the East Congo Initiative, a nonprofit organization that helps direct aid to the war-torn region.

The group, which was founded in 2010, says it is the first U.S. organization to focus solely on aiding eastern Congo.

Affleck’s knowledge of the conflict seemed to impress committee members.

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the committee’s chairman, said that he “knew nothing about the Congo other than what I learned today.”

Singer Ke$ha ‘so, so, so sorry’ for song lyrics

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ke$ha says she understands her hit song “Die Young” ‘’is now inappropriate” following the shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The pop singer said in a Twitter post Tuesday night that she’s “so, so, so sorry” for anyone affected by the tragedy.

Earlier Tuesday, Ke$ha tweeted that she had her own issues with “Die Young” due to the lyrics, but that she was “FORCED TO” sing them. That tweet was deleted a short time later.

Ke$ha’s spokesman said the 25-year-old had no comment Wednesday morning.

“Die Young” is intended as a party anthem and is No. 3 on this week’s Billboard Hot 100 chart.

However,  radio stations began to pull it and other songs with potentially upsetting lyrics after 26 people, including 20 children, were killed Friday at an elementary school.

ABC News veteran faces drunken driving charge

LEWES, Del. — Former ABC News correspondent Sam Donaldson is facing a drunken driving charge in Delaware.

Police in the southern coastal town of Lewes say the 78-year-old Donaldson was stopped Dec. 1 for a traffic violation. Police say the officer determined Donaldson had been drinking and gave him field sobriety tests.

Donaldson was arrested and later released. An arraignment is set for Friday.

A phone call to Donaldson’s home in McLean, Va., on Wednesday was not immediately returned. McLean is about 110 miles west of Lewes.

Donaldson was twice chief White House correspondent for ABC News, covering Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He also co-hosted “PrimeTime Live.”

– From news service reports