By Christina Wilkie - 06/08/11 11:38 PM EDT
Hoyer confessed the historical schism to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday, during a visit from Queen Margrethe of Denmark.
“We’re now going to take a brief tour of the Capitol of the United States,” Hoyer said. “And one of the things that I called to the attention of Her Majesty and His Royal Highness was that there is a Viking ship over my door as you enter my office.
“It’s the only Viking ship in the Capitol of the United States, and so it is somewhat ironic and propitious that it became my office,” Hoyer added, when Democrats lost the majority last fall.
“[The ship is] a testament to a fact that I argue with Speaker Pelosi,” Hoyer said, before pausing to correct himself. “We still call her our Speaker, but our Leader Pelosi ... [It’s that] Leif Ericson discovered America, notwithstanding the public-relations job that was done for Christopher Columbus. But we have a back-and-forth upon that issue.”
Pelosi is of Italian descent, and she recently visited Italy to mark the 150th anniversary of the nation’s unification.
Hoyer’s claim to early Viking achievement is tough to counter, even for a trained debater like Pelosi. Icelandic Viking Ericson established a colony in Greenland around 1003 AD, nearly 500 years before Columbus sailed.
But for now, the debate rages on.