In the know

Life can turn confusing when you hike the distance from the Senate office buildings to the House — especially when you’re Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Out of his element, Kerry got confused in a Longworth elevator when traveling from one of the upper-level floors to the first. The senator and former presidential candidate apparently didn’t know which button to push for the first floor, when a bystander told him it is, indeed, the button with the “1” on it.



Sen. Schumer teases the press corps

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) is known for his affection for all things press-worthy. Hardly attention-starved when it comes to the media, he had some fun last week as he walked past a gaggle of reporters on his way into the Senate chamber.

“See how crazy I am?” he said to a few senators within earshot of reporters, triggering the scribes’ curiosity. “See what I’m going to do?”

Schumer was just being mischievous. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) explained to the eager throng of reporters, “He always says that to you guys.” And later in the stairwell, Durbin further remarked, “He’s trying to tease you so you’ll come to his next press conference.”



Monopoly knock-off takes swipe at Bush and Ashcroft

Free-speech zones are few and far between in the latest Monopoly knockoff, Patriot Act: The Home Version, where the last player to keep their civil liberties wins. The game grants players the opportunity to “laugh, cry and trample on the Constitution.”

A glaring John Ashcroft replaces the smiling Mr. Monopoly at the center of the board. Instead of losing money when landing on a space, players lose civil liberties. Rather going directly to jail, players go directly to Guantanamo.

Creator Michael Kabbash, a cartoonist and Arab civil-rights activist, is offering a free printable version of the game through his website graphix4change.com.

The game, says the website, is “a statement on the erosion of civil liberties in America since 9/11 under the Bush administration and the watchful eye of John Ashcroft.”



Miller shrugs off missing votes

After ITK reported last week that Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) took off six weeks of work after rotator-cuff surgery (as told to ITK by John Rothrock, his chief of staff), Miller wanted to clarify.

Rothrock also explained Miller’s recent attire of an Adidas tracksuit and a sling — the sling, he said, was to prevent other members from trying to shake his hand.

Miller says he took three weeks off — not six — to recover from his surgery. What’s more, he was under strict doctor’s orders to keep his arm immobile and not get on an airplane, hence the sling and his reason for missing “18 votes” in Washington. The lawmaker also claimed that his surgery was serious and that his collar bone had to be “ripped out.”

Miller shrugged off missing the votes, saying, “I missed naming some post offices.” However, the congressman only missed one vote on the renaming of a post office. The major vote he missed was for the new House majority leader — he tried to vote by proxy but wasn’t allowed. (He supported the eventual winner, Ohio Republican Rep. John Boehner.)

The congressman shouldn’t lose sleep over all the votes he missed — one honored the contribution of Catholic schools, and another congratulated the Pittsburgh Steelers for winning the Super Bowl.



The scream that just won’t die

The Dean scream that echoed throughout the world even caught Steve McMahon, media adviser for Howard Dean’s 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, off guard.

Last week, McMahon enlightened a group of 12 young journalists at the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism about the scream that sent Dean’s campaign into a tailspin.

On the day Dean spoke, after the Iowa caucuses, someone went on stage to warm up the crowd. The sound was poor in light of the large room and the crowd, swelling into the thousands. The microphone was not working properly — even the sound-check person was forced to yell.

As Dean’s speech went on, McMahon said, he was forced to get louder so that the crowd could hear him. The infamous scream could not be heard by many in the crowd and was only picked up by TV audio feeds.

McMahon noted the print news reports the next day made no mention of the sound issue. By his calculation, within a few weeks the scream aired 797 times on national TV. Before the scream, he said, Dean was 16 points ahead. After, Dean was 22 points behind.

That left McMahon to surmise only one thing to the aspiring scribes: “If the scream speech had not occurred, we would have won New Hampshire.”

Let’s not get carried away. One fact that is forgotten by many is that the scream occurred after Dean finished a disappointing third in the Iowa caucuses.



Gonzalez recovering from emergency appendectomy

Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) is still recovering from the emergency appendectomy he had a few weeks ago.

After experiencing intense abdominal pain and feverish symptoms Oct. 3, the congressman drove himself to a hospital in San Antonio. That weekend he underwent the surgery, and he stayed home that week to rest.

“I am doing really well and returned last week after having the only Republican body part in me removed: my appendix,” Gonzalez said Monday. “It didn’t serve any useful purpose and only caused me pain.”

ITK wishes Gonzalez all the best with his recovery.



Washington Wizards star cozies up to Sen. Obama

Heads turned in a new direction last Thursday in the Senate — toward the sky — as 6-foot-10-inch Etan Thomas, the Washington Wizards’ star center/power forward, joshed with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) before a series of budget votes.

Thomas, clad in a conservative sweater with a knit cap over his hair, said he had just finished a lunch with Obama but coyly evaded questions on what they discussed.

“Not too much basketball,” Thomas said softly, adding that he and Obama had “common interests and common grounds.”

One clue to the basketballer’s affinity for the popular freshman senator: the two are both vocal opponents of the war in Iraq. Obama continues to call for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops, while Thomas has read poetry and speeches at anti-war rallies in between averaging five rebounds per game.



Sweeney on the mend from vasculitis

Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.) is slowly recovering from vasculitis, a condition he has been tentatively diagnosed with that involves an inflammation of the blood vessels in his brain.

The congressman has been in and out of Albany Medical Center for the past three weeks. His symptoms included a severe migraine-like headache and a spiking of his already-high blood pressure.

In the course of his treatment, Sweeney had an angiogram, and he will receive medical care at Johns Hopkins when he returns to Washington next week. For the time being, he is being treated with prednisone, an anti-inflammatory drug. “It’s definitely something to be taken seriously,” said Melissa Carlson, Sweeney’s deputy chief of staff, “but it is being monitored and he is looking

forward to a full recovery.”



Announcements

Donate clothing to low-income women

Run home now to help a woman in need.

The way FedEx and Dress for Success bill it, your spring-cleaning can help springboard someone into a new career.

For their “Send a Suit” clothing drive today, drop off your “gently worn” professional clothing at the Capitol South Metro station at 1st and D streets S.E. This includes dry-cleaned suits, used shoes, blouses and accessories.


Late-night party at City Tavern Club

The Indian King Society (IKS) presents “CTC Late Nite, a dark & stormy event for members and guests” at the City Tavern Club (3206 M Street NW) this Saturday night on March 25. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., members will party in “smart casual” attire, meaning no jeans. Temporary memberships are available: $10 at the door.

Dark and stormy signifies the recent weather, and also the signature drink that will be served made of  Goslings Rum and ginger beer.

Drew Cole, Associate Director of the DCI Group and co-chair of The Indian King Society, explains that IKS is a committee within the larger CTC club that caters to younger members under 35. IKS hosts 6-8 late-night parties a year — they include the Monte Carlo Casino party, the Mardi Gras Masquerade party and the Bermuda party.

Andrew Barr, Josephine Hearn, Jackie Kucinich, Karissa Marcum and Elana Schor contributed to this report.