In the know

Move over, Rep. Ellison, here comes Congressman Brad Sherman

Freshman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) requested to be sworn into Congress with a Koran, but Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) took his ceremonial oath of office on the first Hebrew Bible printed in the United States.

Take that, Ellison!

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In response to the controversy caused by columnist and Los Angeles radio personality Dennis Prager’s criticism of the first Muslim congressman taking his oath on the Koran, as well as the slams by Virginia GOP Rep. Virgil Goode, Sherman declared that all members should be able to take the oath on whatever religious text they choose, should they choose any at all. 

Sherman also noted that among the marble reliefs in the House chamber, one depicts one of the most important Muslims in history.

“Looking down on us from the very top are friezes of the great lawgivers, including Jefferson, Moses and Suleiman the Magnificent [the greatest of Ottoman emperors],” said Sherman. “Those who think that the swearing-in of members of the House constitutes an embracing of only the Christian tradition have never stood on the House floor and looked up.”

Sherman was sure to include his new bride, Lisa, in the ritual. In the photograph she is situated in the middle and holding onto the Hebrew Bible.

The borrowed Bible comes from the Library of Congress. The two-volume edition appeared in Philadelphia in 1814.

When Sherman was first sworn into Congress in 1997, he did so on his family’s Jewish Bible.


 Sighting: Former Speaker Hastert dines at 701

MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson shows up to La Chaumiere

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was spotted dining out last week at 701 with what appeared to be two older male colleagues, according to an ITK spy.

And apparently, the VIP treatment is gone. He was crammed into a small table in the corner.

“My colleague and I were speculating that he was taking advantage of the D.C. Restaurant Week discounts before the new House ethics rules take effect,” remarked the spy.

In other sighting news, Tucker Carlson, the outspoken MSNBC talk show host, was spotted with a party of six on Saturday night at La Chaumiere, the upscale French bistro in Georgetown.

Rep. Tom Udall ruptures rare tendon

Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) may be closer to the apes than even he originally thought. He explained recently that he ruptured his plantaris tendon while playing tennis in December.

The congressman then explained something rather shocking: Not everyone has a plantaris tendon, and you only know you have it if you rupture it, he explained, rubbing his calf to show the general vicinity of the mysterious tendon.

“It’s a funny muscle because we don’t really need it,” he said. “We descended from the apes. It allowed the gripping [action]. Some people don’t have it.”

So what does one do for a ruptured plantaris tendon? “You just let it rest and heal,” said Udall. “It takes a while for the pain to go away.”



Traditional vs. Progressive: MRS. vs. MS.

When female senators are called for a vote, they choose whether to go by Ms. or Mrs. The surprising results on who’s old-school and who’s not  —Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is a Mrs. and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) is a Ms., for example — prove it’s not always a matter of whether they are married or single. 

Each woman has her own reasons for her choice.

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), for instance, chooses Ms. because she goes by her maiden name as opposed to her husband’s name.

“She comes from a family with political history in the state,” said spokesman Adam Sharp. “Her father was mayor of New Orleans and a cabinet secretary under [President] Carter, and her brother [Mitch] is lieutenant governor. Landrieu is a very recognizable name in Louisiana. She was not married through her years in the legislature. Voters statewide are more familiar with her under that name than her husband’s [Frank Snellings].”

The following is a breakdown of female senators who go by Mrs. and Ms.:

MRS.
Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)
Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas)
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)
Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)
Patty Murray (D-Wash.)

MS.
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) - single
Susan Collins (R-Maine) - single
Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) - married
Mary Landrieu (D-La.) - married
Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) - single
Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) - married
Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) - married
Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) - married



Announcements

Lobbyist Jack Quinn’s former chief of staff dies

Former congressman also suffers death of nephew

Mary Lou Palmer, a longtime aide to former Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), died last week from a stroke. She suffered for a year with lung cancer even though she never smoked. She was 71.

Palmer came to work for Quinn as he ran his first election for the Hamburg Town Board in 1981. Quinn once served as her newspaper delivery boy. She remained fiercely loyal to Quinn as he ran 12 political campaigns — everything from the Hamburg Town Board to supervisor and, ultimately, Congress.

Quinn delivered the eulogy at Palmer’s funeral, describing how they worked together for 10 years in town government before he ever got elected to Congress. Once he won his congressional seat, he immediately asked Palmer to join him on Capitol Hill. “I knew that I had to have somebody in charge who understands this district,” he said in a phone interview Monday. “She was intensely loyal and trustworthy and became a member of the family, just about. So I decided she would be become my chief of staff.”

At the time, it was unique, Quinn explained, that anyone would have a chief of staff based in the district. “She ran both offices,” he recalled. “Every other week she would fly down to Washington and stay for two nights. She had standing reservations at the Capitol Suites, that old dingy place.”

Born in Buffalo, Palmer graduated from Mount St. Joseph Business School. She worked various jobs over the course of her lifetime, including as a secretary and an employee of the U.S. Postal Service before opening a beauty salon. Palmer was a Republican state committee member for 25 years and attended five GOP national conventions.

“She had an unbelievably strong sense of service,” said Quinn, now president of Cassidy & Associates, a government-relations firm in Washington. “She had an uncanny touch for common people — the autoworker from western New York state, the unemployed mother. We were a perfect match.”

Palmer is survived by her husband of 52 years, Robert; her daughter, Sharon; her son, Robert Jr.; and a sister, Carol.

In the last year of her life she was extremely private about her illness. “Three months ago she said, ‘No one knows how sick I am besides me and my daughter,’” said Quinn. “She was very, very private, didn’t want to burden anybody with it.”

At the same time that Quinn grieves Palmer’s death, he is also coping with the death of Tony Quinn, his 34-year-old nephew who recently died of throat cancer.