Congress’s Follicly Challenged Caucus

Congress’s Follicly Challenged Caucus

It was the day before the Senate Intelligence Committee was to release two reports on Iraq intelligence. The mood was as serious and somber as the issues.

Which was why Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) was a bit miffed when interrupted last week in the middle of a serious-minded interview outside the Capitol’s Mansfield Room about intelligence with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Weisman.

Just then Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), who used to be in the Senate’s barbershop quartet, walked up to Roberts and broke into song: “Oh, I wish I had hair!” he crooned and nudged him on the elbow.

Roberts looked startled by the interruption and replied, “Get out of here.”

Craig, who is also lacking in the hair department although not a complete Q-ball, was already on his way.

Asked about the incident, Roberts couldn’t explain it, but said it wasn’t surprising: “We who belong to the Follicly Challenged Caucus are used to this.”  



Rep. Otter gets married, but Idaho newspaper says bride planned to wed Rep. Simpson

The Idaho State Journal, a Pocatello, Idaho, daily, recently published a headline in early August stating that Rep. Butch Otter’s (R-Idaho) fiancee Lori Easley, was going to marry Otter’s already very married congressional colleague, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).

The headline in question:

“Otter Easley wedding set for Aug. 18

Easley agrees to marry Simpson after five proposals.”

That evening, at an Otter fundraiser, Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Watts took a dozen red roses to Easley with a card from her boss that read: “Lori, thanks for saying yes. I’m thrilled … Kathy [Simpson’s wife], not so thrilled.” 

Rep. Gutierrez sends loud message with Ace bandage: please don’t shake my hand!

After injuring his right hand and aggravating it by shaking the hands of many constituents, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) realized he needed to do something dramatic to make it heal.

So with the election less than a couple of months away, Gutierrez was forced to do something every politician fears: he put his hand on injured reserve by wrapping an Ace bandage around it.

He explained that he needed a signal so people wouldn’t shake his hand, which he sprained by carrying some luggage and somehow twisting it.

“It hurts having to shake everyone’s hand,” he said.

Gutierrez doesn’t have much to worry about this fall. He attracted 84 percent of the vote in 2004 and is expected to easily win his race in November.



Rep. Baca suffers heart attack but golf game must go on

Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas) and Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) claim they saved Rep. Joe Baca’s (D-Calif.) life in late July.

Green and Reyes picked up Baca at his Hill House apartment for a morning tee time.

After Baca noted he was having chest pains, Green and Reyes say they convinced Baca to go to the House physician and took him there themselves.

The two congressmen then wished Baca well and made sure they weren’t late for their tee time.

The physician subsequently sent Baca to the hospital; the congressman had suffered a mild (is there such a thing?) heart attack.

“He told us it was heartburn,” Green says. “We would have taken him [to the hospital] if we had known.”

Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) was in a fit of laughter last week, joking that his Hispanic Congressional Caucus colleagues, Green and Reyes, left Baca, 59, high and dry. “I do think we need to take Reyes and Green to task,” Gonzalez said. “The moral of this story is don’t count on your golfing buddies. They will leave you on the green.”

Green said Baca’s heart attack has definitely made him more thoughtful about his own health. “That sobers you up and makes you serious about your diet.”

Reyes said he and Green saved Baca’s life. “I said ‘Go get him. He may be having a heart attack.’”

A week earlier, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), another member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, says she was suffering chest pains. Thankfully, the EKG showed that nothing was wrong.

Baca rested over the recess, and has committed himself to eating right and exercising.

“He was able to leave the hospital within a couple days and fly back to the district, where he has had work activities and time with his family,” said Baca spokesman Michael Levin. “He seems to be doing well.”

Levin says he was “very surprised” by his boss’s heart attack: “We consider him young and healthy and active. He participates in the congressional baseball game and stays fit.”


Sanchez to run race around Disneyland

For her debut running race, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) on Sept. 17 plans to run around Disneyland.

No, it won’t be anything weird like running in a Minnie Mouse costume. Disneyland will shut down the park for the 13.2-mile race.

Sanchez isn’t worried about it. “I usually run five miles a day anyway,” she said, adding that in recent weeks she has run 10 miles every Sunday.


Former Hill staffer wins film competition for ‘Hill Rats’

Rob Raffety, former legislative director for Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) has won a short film contest for “Hill Rats,” a film that will screen at the 2006 D.C. Shorts Film Festival. The festival runs Sept. 14-17 at the Landmark E Street Cinema.

The film is painless in the sense that it is only nine minutes long — so how bad can it be, right? On the other hand, don’t let anyone tell you that nine minutes can’t feel like longer, especially when the former staffer has stuffed so many Capitol Hill clich�s into one little film.

Raffety, who now works for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, says he intends no harm with the name of his film. He says “rats” refers to “people who spend an exorbitant amount of time immersed in some environment.”

The film focuses on a fictitious lawmaker named Rep. Fae Daley Granger (not to be confused with the real representative, Texas Republican Kay Granger). Raffety plays the role of the Fae Daley Granger’s chief of staff.

In the film, the Republican aide working for Fae Granger puts up with an enormous amount of office chaos. For starters, his boss prefers hair appointments to discussions about legislation. “I have to tell her how to vote,” Raffety’s character whines.

The real Granger’s spokeswoman, Caitlin Caroll, hadn’t heard of the film, but assures, “I can say the character was not modeled after Kay Granger.”

In the film, an office intern plays online poker while the press secretary blows up whenever criticized. After Raffety’s character tries to approach the press secretary about a few lines in a speech, he quits, but not before erupting into a completely inappropriate tirade filled with expletives: “I can’t stand this office! I can’t stand the congresswoman!”

In a final moment of utter disrespect, he flashes Raffety’s character the double bird.

Raffety defends his film, saying, “It’s very much an amateur film. I’m not a professional. I’m not trained. I wrote the thing in a few days.”

For more information about how to see this film, visit www.dcshorts.com.


Jewel set to visit Capitol Hill next week

To help promote awareness for the Breast Cancer Patient Protection legislation, the singer Jewel will come to Capitol Hill next Wednesday. She will speak at a press conference alongside Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Reps. Sue Kelly (R-N.Y.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

The legislation would ensure that women having breast cancer surgery can stay in the hospital for 48 hours after surgery.

Lifetime Television is responsible for bringing the famous singer to the Hill as part of their Stop Breast Cancer for Life campaign.