Julia Carson lingers in “nougatocity”


Julia Carson lingers in “nougatocity”

Lawmakers of course know they are not permitted to eat, drink or smoke on the House floor. But who was going to have the nerve to stop Rep. Julia Carson (D-Ind.) last week as she was wheeled onto the floor for a vote wearing dark rose-colored sunglasses and happily unwrapping and eating a Snickers bar?
She began eating the Snickers off the floor in the Speaker’s Lobby but continued eating once on the floor. Was she having a “substantialicious” moment, as Snicker’s new ad campaign indicates? Or was she undergoing a “hungerectomy”?
Carson’s spokesman, Chad Chitwood, did not respond to requests for information about the congresswoman’s apparent affection for Snickers. Carson had heart-bypass surgery in 1996, but both she and her aides have said she is healthy. Carson has recently been using a wheelchair.
Lawmakers are not permitted to eat or drink on the House floor, but they do it anyway, according to a security source close to the floor.
“You’ll see them bring in cups of coffee,” the source said, adding, “They’re not supposed to drink, they’re not supposed to eat, wear coats, talk on the phone. They’re not supposed to do any of that.”


Sucking up in the elevator

Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was boarding an elevator last week to take him from the second floor of the Capitol to the subway level. Inside was the incoming committee chairman, Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.).
Petri begins by offering Oberstar a deep bow. Then he announces to the other lawmakers packed into the elevator, one of whom is Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), that “Oberstar has moved his ring from his finger to his back pocket,” insinuating that people will now have to kiss the chairman’s behind.
Oberstar responds, saying, “You shouldn’t have a problem with that, Petri.”


 Sighting: Kevin Madden at the Ritz carlton

Kevin Madden, former spokesman to House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), was looking relaxed and happy in the elegant bar of the Georgetown Ritz Carlton on Saturday night.
In the mix of a serious gaggle of blonde women, Madden was there to celebrate the Washington homecoming of Katie Levinson, former campaign spokeswoman for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
Madden was at the bar with his younger brother, Joe, who came in from Yonkers, N.Y. Let’s just say there is a family resemblance, but Joe is no John John (Madden the elder was ranked No. 2 on The Hill’s 2006 50 Most Beautiful list). Joe is single, however, and has dark hair.
Madden was behaving entirely appropriately for a married guy. He wasn’t intoxicated in the slightest and at one point showed a photograph of his wife, Jaclyn, and son, Riley. He says he’s adjusting well to his new job as press secretary for presidential hopeful Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R). At the moment Madden commutes from Washington to Boston.
In the future, however, who knows?
For now, his wife is staying put working as an aide in Boehner’s personal office. Madden lamented that when he told Boehner that he was leaving, Boehner’s main concern was that his wife was staying on board. He did a striking impersonation of his ex-boss reacting to the news, complete with him taking a well-timed drag off a make-believe cigarette. “He didn’t really care that I was leaving,” joked Madden, adding that he felt the person replacing him would do a far better job. 


 Sighting: David Gregory at the Hay Adams for breakfast

When he’s not fighting with White House spokesman Tony Snow, David Gregory, chief White House correspondent for NBC News, actually finds time to eat well.
Last week Gregory was spotted dining alone over breakfast at the Hay Adams Hotel. He was eating the cold cereal with mixed berries.
Also in the dining room that morning was Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor under President George H.W. Bush, who was asked about the report released by the Iraq Study Group that day.
Scowcroft didn’t appear very enthusiastic about the report. “Well, it’s not the Ten Commandments, but it’s the best they can do,” he said.
As soon as Gregory spotted Scowcroft, he ran after him and caught up with him in the hotel lobby. Surely he wanted to ask about the report.
When ITK phoned Gregory about this sighting, a female receptionist asked, “Is he expecting your call?” ITK, while wondering how Gregory has become such a Hollywood celebrity, asked to leave a message in his voicemail. Sadly, even his voicemail was too full to take our lowly message.
Soon thereafter, ITK received a call from Barbara Levin, an NBC spokeswoman in New York. She said Gregory could not speak to ITK because he was preparing for the Nightly News. “He doesn’t have breakfast there often, but when it’s a big news day and he has the opportunity to talk to a newsmaker, of course he’ll try to,” she wrote in an e-mail. 


 Ah, Dr. Watson I presume?

It isn’t everyday that one comes face to face with the godfather of DNA. But last week Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) got that opportunity as James D. Watson paid him a visit off the Senate floor. Watson is as smart as they get. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1962 for his work in discovering the structure of the DNA molecule, commonly referred to as the double helix among people discussing DNA molecules.
Watson, tall and quirky with white hair and glasses, came to Capitol Hill to advocate for increased funding for science and medical research. And it just so happens that Harkin has some authority over DNA-related matters as the incoming chair of the Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education subcommittee, which funds science and medical research at places like the National Institutes of Health.
During the brief meeting, Watson presented Harkin with a signed copy of his yet-to-be-published autobiography, “Manners for Science.”
Harkin’s spokesman, Tom Reynolds, remarked, “Senator Harkin always enjoys the opportunity to meet with a genius.”


 Want to work for Rep. Wu? Only Mandarin speakers need apply.

It’s getting harder and harder to be an aide on the Hill these days, at least in Rep. David Wu’s (D-Ore.) office.
Wu is looking for a new legislative assistant, but the candidate must be fluent in, yes, Mandarin, “including proficient reading and writing skills.”
It’s something Wu’s office has always looked for in that position, explains Jillian Schoene, Wu’s spokeswoman, adding that the current legislative assistant speaks fluent Mandarin. 
Schoene says it’s vital for the aide to speak Mandarin: “Well, him being the first and still only Chinese-American in Congress, quite frequently we have folks stop by or who write to us because of his background.”
The ad for the job asks for a resume and one writing sample. It’s unclear whether or not the sample must be in Mandarin. 
Rumors have it that future legislative assistants for Wu, who indeed speaks Mandarin, will have to possess juggling skills, be able to stand on their head and have prior knowledge and experience with fiddling. 



Announcements

Staff director celebrates birth of son

Tom Kahn, staff director and counsel for the House Budget Committee, and wife, Susy, are delighted by the recent birth of their first child, a son, Benjamin Eugene Kahn, born on Nov. 21. Ben weighed 8 pounds and 11 ounces. He was 21 and one-half inches long.
 “As you can see from the photo, Ben got his good looks from his mother — definitely NOT his dad,” writes Khan in an e-mail. “Clearly, he got his high IQ from his mother, too. Given the long-standing tradition in his family with its Boston roots, Ben is sure to be an avid Boston Red Sox fan.”


 Senate Press Gallery aide gives birth to baby boy

Amy Gross and husband, Taylor, welcomed the birth of their baby boy, Tate, (short for Taylor Stephen Gross Jr.) on Dec. 1.
Gross is the senior media relations coordinator in the Senate Press Gallery. Taylor is a former White House spokesman who now works as a partner at the Herald Group, a public-relations firm.
Tate was born weighing 7 pounds and was 20 inches long.