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A brawl to remember: Rep. Barney Frank vs. Fox News’s Neil Cavuto

Fox News and Democratic leaders in Congress: Let’s get ready to rumble!

Now that Democrats have control of Congress, they’re in high demand among TV bookers. Democrats are showing up on Fox, even though many on the left think Fox is anything but “fair and balanced.”

Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was on Neil Cavuto’s show last week and the conflict was anything but subtle.

They first exchanged the necessary pleasantries, but then it quickly deteriorated into entertaining television.

During a six-minute segment on shareholder power over the pay of CEOs, the new Financial Services Committee chairman landed the first blow: “If you are going to interrupt me every five words, we are not going to have a show. I’m trying to answer your questions. What’s the matter with you?”

Challenged on the perception that he wanted to cap CEO pay, Frank later snapped, “I can’t deal with all your distortions.”

When pressed, Frank said, “I’m for the shareholders deciding. Why is that so hard for you to grasp?”

Cavuto then landed a haymaker: “Congressman, is it incumbent upon you to be so condescending or do you want to answer my question?”

Frank countered, “You’re not going to run this like a junior high school class.”

After another question posed by Cavuto (which was similar to previous ones), Frank said, “Yeah, isn’t that clear?”

Cavuto: “When I’m seeking clarification, I’m not trying to be a jerk, all right? So let’s not be silly.”

Frank: “When I say something, you say, ‘Do you really mean it?’ If I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t say it.”

A frustrated Cavuto ended the segment by saying, “All right, all right, for God’s sake, all right, Barney Frank, thank you, congressman.”

There is no word when, or if, Frank will be making his second 2007 appearance on Cavuto’s show. Frank’s office declined to comment.

 Bizarre freshman encounters

Being a freshman member of Congress means putting up with more seasoned members of Congress who feel the need to try to put you at ease.

Newbie Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) was happily chatting away in the Speaker’s Lobby last week when Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) approached and pointed to his new, shiny red congressional pin. “Did you feel that power surge when they put that pin in?” he asked, pressing a finger against the pin. Klein chuckled at the awkward comment and replied that yes, there were “little butterflies.”

Please send all bizarre freshman encounters to ITK by e-mailing

 Ellison tries to see the good in Rep. Virgil Goode

The freshman also has thoughts on smoking 

We’re all God’s children, aren’t we? Such is the attitude of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who had only good things to say about Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) last week even though Goode has repeatedly condemned him for being sworn in with the Koran (Ellison is Muslim).

Ellison said he had seen Goode and was not angry with him. “He expressed a point of view,” Ellison said. “I don’t agree with it. It’s not personal. Who knows what the future holds? I might be able to show him that all people have a place in America. He’s God’s child too and you can’t give up on him.”

On the subject of smoking, Ellison is far less understanding. He  seemed genuinely shocked that members are allowed to smoke in the Speaker’s Lobby. Breathing in the stuffy air, he asked, “Are they allowed to smoke in here? That’s disgusting.”

 Berkley glams out in pink sunglasses

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) was looking very Vegas last week as she walked around the Capitol in bubblegum-pink sunglasses.

Asked if the glasses have special meaning or if she is being hunted down by the paparazzi, her chief of staff, Richard Urey, jokingly suggested, “She has an Elvis fetish.”  More seriously, he added,  “I know she has taken to wearing sunglasses in the last year. She says she likes the way they look and they are easy on her eyes. I thought she was kind of styling in them, to tell you the truth.”

As for the paparazzi, he said, “You never know.”

Pin and wardrobe antics with Reps. Kingston and McCotter

Reps. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) were discussing the aesthetics of the new red congressional pin last week when the conversation took a downward turn.

“It’s not bad if your taste comes right out of Wal-Mart,” Kingston joked.

At which point McCotter noticed Kingston’s yellow striped tie and remarked, “I wouldn’t even wear that as a headband at a Grateful Dead concert.” 

Kingston countered, “Where do you think I got it? You were passed out when I got that.”

Two lawmakers take to wheelchairs

Two members of Congress returned from the congressional recess in wheelchairs. They are Reps. Marion Berry (D-Ark.) and Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.). Berry’s was apparently an old leg injury.

Buyer’s, however, was fresh from a ski trip in Colorado, where he tore three ligaments in his knee. Last week he had his left leg in a brace and propped on top of a pillow in the chair. And it’s not a simple injury, says Buyer’s chief of staff Mike Kopher, who explains that his boss will need to do rehab for six hours a day. The entire injury could take nine months to heal.

“It’s painful,” said Kopher, explaining that the right tip of Buyer’s ski caught on something and sent his knee twisting. He joked about a famous California governor who also recently suffered a skiing injury. “He didn’t hit Arnold,” he said, referring to Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). “I’m not sure Steve would be moving if that had happened.  

Former Rep. Taylor conceded to Rep. Shuler with a fax but never phoned

Some might consider it rude that former Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) never phoned newly elected Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) to concede the race. Instead, he faxed a letter he didn’t sign.

“I would have thought a phone call would have been in order,” said Andrew Whalen, Shuler’s spokesman, adding that he wasn’t surprised considering how personal and heated the race was.

“It was what it was,” he added. “We weren’t going to spend any time worrying about it.” Shuler beat Taylor 54 to 46 percent.


Rep. Brown’s daughter dies

The Hill sends its condolences to Rep. Henry Brown Jr. (R-S.C.), who lost his 48-year-old daughter Catherine last week. “She had been ill,” said Brown’s spokesman Sharon Axson, who would not specifically discuss Catherine’s sickness. She is survived by her husband, David; a brother, Jimmy; a sister, Debra; and several nieces who affectionately called her “Aunt Tater.”

The family requests that memorial contributions be made to the John Ancrum SPCA, 3861 Leads Ave., North Charleston, SC 29405 or to the Lupus Foundation of America Inc., 2000 L Street, N.W. Suite 710, Washington, DC 20036. Condolences may be sent via