In the know


Durbin refuses to watch Fox News at Senate gym

Maybe he should be more ‘fair and balanced’?

Hanging out with a bunch of GOP senators in the gym requires Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to take his share of ribbing by his colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

Durbin, like many Democrats, has a disliking for Fox News — the supposedly “fair and balanced” network that is favored by a whole lot of R’s. Durbin refuses to watch the channel in the Senate gym.

Somehow it struck Durbin’s colleagues as silly when the senator recently showed up on none other than — Fox News, leaving him open to the mocking of Republican senators such as John Cornyn (Texas), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Mel Martinez (Fla.) and Lamar Alexander (Tenn.).

“Recently, he’s on all the time,” Durbin spokesman Joe Shoemaker confirmed. “We’ve gone on “Fox News Sunday” two to three times already this year, so if they are teasing him that’s entirely possible.”

Shoemaker confirmed Durbin’s dislike for Fox News. He said that when the senator used to work out at the House gym it would blare Fox News and Durbin, a former House member, didn’t like it.

In another Fox News-related incident, Durbin entered the Senate gym and as soon as Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) saw the Illinois senator approach he kindly changed the channel from Fox News.

“Senator Durbin appears on a variety of news shows,” Shoemaker said, perplexed by the idea that there is any kind of discrepancy here. “Of course we are going to be on Fox News. Are you trying to say he shouldn’t go on Fox News?”

Heavens to Fox News, no. ITK believes in being fair and balanced to all media outlets.



Sighting: Stephen Colbert on Capitol Hill

For many Capitol Hill aides, seeing Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” is a little bit like Catholics seeing the pope or Beatles fans running into Paul McCartney. It can seem like a spiritual experience.

Some aides lost their minds last week as Colbert, who routinely makes fun of lawmakers and politics on his late-night fake news show, showed up in Cannon to interview Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) for his “Better Know a District” segment. He also was the highlighted guest at a GOP Theme Team meeting hosted by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) in Rayburn with lawmakers and aides concerning how to master the blogosphere.

Gary Palmquist, legislative director for Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) was particularly taken by his Colbert sighting.

“Funny guy,” Palmquist said. “After I told him my name, he said, ‘Gary Conquest?’ I said, ‘Actually, no, but that’s my porn name.”

Palmquist was delighted to meet Colbert: “We just walked in and he made a point of talking to us for a few minutes. He seems very down to earth.”

Colbert jokingly asked another aide, whose boss is a House Democrat from New York, if her boss “had taken any of Jack Abramoff’s money.”

David All, Kingston’s spokesman, remarked, “We had an escort [pronounced in a Colbert French accent] pick him up.

“He is always on. He’s pretty hilarious,” All said. “The funny thing is his facial expressions — his eyebrows, oddly enough. He’s just very overdramatic.

“He recommended that Republicans come on his show; he said he’s not out to get them, that he’s not an assassin, that staffers could give him the issues they want to address.”



Rep. McKinney lights up screen in doc film

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) has never shied away from controversy, and by appearing in the documentary “American Blackout” she may be welcoming more of it.

The documentary chronicles black voting in America through the lens of the 2000 presidential election and the battle over Florida. It features cameos from Reps. John Lewis (D-Ga.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio).

Filmmaker Ian Inaba’s cinematic exploration leads him to McKinney, who led the investigation of the firm that created voter lists for Florida in 2000. McKinney suspected that her failed election bid in 2002 might be a result of the same corruption.

The film screened last night in the Library of Congress after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it won the special jury prize for documentary.


Sighting: Schumer at the Ritz with a scratch on his face
How did Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) get that cut across his forehead?

Spotting him outside the M Street Ritz-Carlton hotel Monday night around dinnertime with the scratch, ITK couldn’t help but wonder what it was all about.

Schumer, touching his forehead, said he didn’t know. He joked that he got beat up by a bunch of reporters but explained that he first noticed the scratch after returning from a round of golf the other day.

“My wife asked, ‘What’s that cut across your head?’”

Schumer said he suspects that he got the cut by wiping sand across his forehead with his golfing glove.


Italian PM’s speech has low lawmaker turnout

Attendance was so weak last week during Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s speech to the joint session of Congress that frantic calls went out to staffers and pages over the whip phone to fill up the seats — and fast.

One observer witnessed a herd of congressional pages coming into the chamber to fill up the last three rows of empty seats. After that, pages filled four rows on the Democratic side. Staffers with badges could also be seen among members of the audience.

While it’s tough to surmise why there was such a low turnout — lawmakers all receive an extra ticket to such events, and Berlusconi is undeniably dynamic — it’s also true that his English is difficult to understand. So much so that he switched multiple times from English to Italian and the audience received special translation sheets.


Lawmakers become actors for just one night

They wouldn’t win Oscars, but lawmakers and some D.C. pundits participated in a whodunit play Monday night at Arena Stage and managed not to make fools of themselves. The play’s premise was that pundits in D.C. were disappearing, hence the name, “The Pundit Whodunit: The Case of the Political Puzzle.”

Lawmakers in the cast included Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.); Reps. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), John Tanner (D-Tenn.), Steve Rothman (D-N.J.); and Sens. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

Having just received the scripts that afternoon, most lawmakers used them during the play. Not Kolbe — he memorized all four of his lines.

Coble, sitting on a red sofa with the ultra-serious Jackson, stood out in a brown ensemble with brown argyle socks. In the play, Coble told Jackson that he was creating a task force to investigate the scarcity of pundits. “We are conducting a hearing to consider holding a hearing,” he said.

Half the battle of being funny in this play was getting a good line.

Among the Dick Cheney shooting jokes and the “undisclosed location” humor montage, the line that brought the house down was given to political analyst Charlie Cook. At one point in the play, the voluptuous Agent Jones is posing as a French maid when Cook discovers who she really is.

“You wouldn’t want to out an agent under cover, would you?” she asks.

His reply: “Who do I look like? Bob Novak?”


Announcements

Rep. Rothman: Engaged to woman he met on JDate
It’s a Jewish mother’s dream come true.

Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.) is engaged to Jennifer Beckenstein, a publicist for a food bank in Englewood, N.J., that he helped create 27 years ago.

Both Rothman and Beckenstein have been married once before. They met on JDate seven months ago. Beckenstein, 48, has three children; Rothman, 53, has two.

“We knew there was something special right away,” Rothman said, adding that he has been single for 11 and a half years. “She is just such a great person. She has such a beautiful heart. True love is everything they crack it up to be.”

The couple are planning a fall wedding, but details have not been finalized.