In the Know: Cohen breaks into song, challenges Oberstar

Singing competitions can happen anywhere. Just ask Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who broke into song during a recent House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee hearing on high-speed rail.

The subject of the hearing clearly had Cohen thinking about fast trains.

“Have you ever heard of [1960s band] the Box Tops?” Cohen quizzed Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo.

“Yes, I remember the Box Tops, but I ... ” he stumbled, “you were stretching me a little bit, but ... ”

Cohen clearly had a home-field advantage: The Box Tops were a Memphis, Tenn., group whose biggest hit, “The Letter,” came out when the congressman was 18 years old.


“Give me a ticket for an airplane,” Cohen spontaneously cooed, “ain’t got time to catch a fast train. My baby just wrote me a letter.”

The crowd gave his performance the next best thing to applause: laughter.

“We’ll write you a new song,” he told Szabo. “Get us a fast train.”

When he was finished, subcommittee Chairwoman Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) challenged Transportation Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) to “top that.” Game on.

Cohen echoed the challenge to his chairman.

But Oberstar would have none of it. “I don’t compose music or lyrics,” he countered. “We compose legislation.”

Note to Spencer Bachus: Don’t mess with Brad Sherman

During the tense vote on the Wall Street rescue package in September of 2008, a frustrated Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) physically hushed Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), an outspoken critic of the bailout.

But Bachus best beware if he thinks that’s going to happen again without repercussions. Sherman was spotted Monday night at a Capitol Hill gym, complete with personal trainer, working his legs.

ITK didn’t want to interrupt Sherman’s workout, but even at the gym he was sporting his home colors. The UCLA graduate had his college sweatshirt on.


Tony Podesta wants your old shoes for his birthday

Lobbyist Tony Podesta turns 65 this weekend, and to celebrate the occasion, he’s throwing a bash on Friday at the National Museum for Women in the Arts.

The birthday boy is known for his jazzy style, and for a certain pair of really red shoes. According to the invitation, guests are encouraged to wear red shoes, but that’s not all. Partygoers are also asked to bring a pair of shoes, new or used, to donate through the Soles4Souls charity to people in need of footwear.

The museum holds a special significance for Podesta and his wife Heather, two of the city’s best-known modern art collectors. In the past five years the couple has donated dozens of works to the museum, some of which are on display in the third-floor gallery.
 

Eric Holder ‘bravely’ gets flu shot

Even though he’s 58 years old, Attorney General Eric Holder got a special round of applause Tuesday from pediatricians for the accomplishment of getting a flu shot.

Holder was speaking to the American Academy of Pediatrics, where many of the members are no doubt used to cajoling and cheering on patients frightened of shots.

“I want to let you all know that I just got a flu shot,” Holder told the crowd, “so that if I start to waver a little bit up here ... ”

Holder had to stop the joke when the room exploded into applause, which clearly perplexed the attorney general.

“Was that for bravery or something?” he asked the docs.

 
Man-shower for Dupont lobbyist

K Street haunt Oceanaire is the venue for Thursday’s Man-Shower (the male version of a baby shower) in honor of Dupont lobbyist and Political Director Jeff Pannozzo, who is expecting his first child later this year.

Hosts include America’s Health Insurance Plans’ Jill Dowell, political consultant Ashlee Reid Morehouse, Dickstein Shapiro’s Allison Shulman, the Printing Industries of America’s Lisbeth Lyons and Bellwether Group’s Monica Notzon.

Think scotch and cigars, plus pint-sized pinstriped suits for the baby (it’s a boy, by the way), whom Pannozzo refers to as “The Game Changer.”

High-tech hunting game a hit with lawmakers, Cheney, Scalia

There’s a cool new tech toy on Capitol Hill: Laser Shot, a realistic hunting simulator game, is enjoyed by members of Congress, staffers and lobbyists alike, making it the perfect entertainment for 2010 campaign fundraisers.

The game is so popular, in fact, that an ITK spy reported seeing three senators playing it at recent charity fundraiser: John Thune (R-S.D.), Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.).

Nelson’s spokesman reports the senator was not actually playing Laser Shot at the charity event, but that’s probably because he has one at home in Nebraska. Nelson plays the game with his family, and puts tape on the floor to know where to stand for the clearest resolution. The verdict from Nelson: “It’s terrific!”

Two sources also told ITK that former Vice President Dick Cheney and his hunting buddy, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, have both played the game. No word on whether Cheney shot any lifelike figures when he played the game.

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Inside the Beltway, the best place to play Laser Shot is (where else?) at the National Rifle Association, where the staff set up a huge screen in the conference room for political fundraising tournaments, complete with trophies for the winner.

The game’s manufacturer is Sugarland, Texas-based Laser Shot Firearms Training Solutions, whose primary business is making battle simulators for the Department of Defense. The company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Spokesmen for Burr, Thune, Scalia and Cheney did not comment.

Tips and complaints: christina.wilkie@thehill.com or 202-628-8516.

Reid Wilson contributed to this page.