50 Most Beautiful fallout: Rep. Ellsworth’s mom questions her son’s placement on list

Mothers typically boast of their child’s beauty. But Rep. Brad Ellsworth’s (D-Ind.) mom, Margaret Ellsworth, had a different reaction when her son was chosen as The Hill’s No. 1 most beautiful person in Congress.

“As his mom, I never really thought he was good-looking,” she told Jimmy Nesbitt, a reporter for the Evansville Courier & Press. Nesbitt said that Mrs. Ellsworth, 76, was a “tough critic” and prefers her son to be known for his legislative achievements, not his physical attributes. She also told the local newspaper that her son closely resembles his maternal grandfather, Joe Scherle. Ellsworth’s late father, Jim, was a blonde.

ITK phoned Margaret Ellsworth for reaction. Apparently, she has since learned to say no to the press. “He told me, ‘Mom, say no comment.’ So I better do what he said,” she replied.  

Despite requests by phone and e-mail, Ellsworth’s office also had no comment. His office released a statement that said, “The list is all in good fun, but the Congressman is convinced his mother must have an in with the selection committee.” (Apparently Ellsworth’s staffers don’t realize his mother didn’t want her son on such a list.)  

On the other hand, Mark Bennett, a columnist for the Terre Haute Tribune Star, said few people batted an eye at the freshman Democrat being the top choice.

“I don’t think people were surprised,” Bennett said. “During the campaign, a lot of people made note of how easy the camera was on Congressman Ellsworth. It seemed to be a visual appeal that was going to take him to an easy win.”

In other “50 Most Beautiful” news, Molly Gray, the scheduler/executive assistant to Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), received a
fantastic reception from strangers, friends and family. Her parents, Vermont farmers who run a stand with everything from pansies to asparagus to rhubarb, have been getting calls from neighbors and customers about their daughter making the list. WCAX Channel 3 also ran news stories on her.

“A Vermont woman may make some people’s heart skip a beat,” read one of the news scripts. “Gray comes from a family of top skiers. And — she’s single.”


Sighting: Dave Chappelle was in the House

Bonnie Allen, an aide on the House Ways and Means Committee, is a brave, brave woman. Last week, the 20-something aide came across comedian Dave Chappelle at the Congressional Federal Credit Union. When she told him that Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) was her boss, Chappelle launched into an impersonation of Rangel, raspy voice and all.

“He had everyone in the Credit Union laughing,” Allen said. “The impersonation was a good one and he did do it in the raspy voice. He cut it off really quick though, [saying], ‘I’m just playing, just playing.’”  

Soon thereafter, Allen “kidnapped” the comedian and took him back with her to her office for an hour to meet her colleagues — it wasn’t hard, especially considering Allen had made The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill list.
Chappelle was on the Hill to cash a $15,000 check at the Credit Union. He has had an account there since he was 16.


Elevator Talk: Sen. Norm Coleman appoints himself new spokesman for Airborne

The following exchange transpired last week in a Hart Senate Office Building elevator between Sens. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

Coleman: Pete, are you going up or down?

Domenici: We’re going to three.

Coleman: Then we’re coming up with you.

Domenici: How are you?
 
Coleman: Doing great. Busy, busy, busy, as you are.

Domenici: You’re doing terrific.
[Coleman puts both hands over his heart in a display of gratitude.]

Domenici: I’m trying to get over a cold.

Coleman: You know, I had a cold.

Domenici (getting excited): Oh, did you?!

Coleman: Airborne works. Airborne. It really works very well.

Hang on, Senator. Before you go promoting Airborne, you should know this: In an article last January entitled “Airborne Baloney,” ScientificAmerican.com questioned the fizzy vitamin, dubbing it the “latest fad in cold remedies.” And in February 2006, ABC conducted its own investigation and found that it might not work.


Whodunit? The D.C. Madam caper that stormed the Hill

The D.C. Madam is a good friend to Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.)these days, at least in the sense that she’s providing fodder for him to play practical jokes on unsuspecting colleagues.

With August fast approaching and members antsy to leave for summer recess, lawmakers are primed for antics. Word spread fast last week after Sullivan turned in two fake cards in the Speaker’s Lobby from a fake Washington Post reporter to Reps. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) with the subject line “D.C. Madam.”

The subject was enough to make the lawmakers’ hearts skip a beat in surprise. But after receiving his phony card, Simpson remarked dryly, “Maybe I’ll just go out and confess I’m going to alcohol rehab.”

 Simpson was making light of the fact that some lawmakers who have suffered scandals — like former Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Mark Foley (R-Fla.) — have announced their attendance at alcohol rehab.

But here’s where the plot thickens: Prior to Sullivan playing the joke on Shuster and Simpson, Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) played the joke on Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) in the Energy and Commerce Committee using a telephone. Though Whitfield was believed to be the perpetrator of the joke, his office denies it and says it must be Deal. Sullivan also sits on the Committee and must have caught wind of the joke.

But beware, Whitfield and Sullivan. Just when you least expect it, Simpson may have a joke of his own up his sleeve.
 


Sighting: Dick Armey in Longworth elevator

Former Rep. Dick Armey (R-Texas) was spotted taking the elevator to an upper floor in the Longworth House Office Building last week. The jovial lawmaker stopped being so loud and jocular upon learning there was a reporter in his midst.
When asked where he was off to, the ex-lawmaker remarked, “Just talking to some friends. I can’t tell you all my secrets.”


Sen. Burns still hates the press

Former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) was recently having lunch in the Senate’s Mansfield Room with ex-colleagues. He said his wife was away so he doesn’t have a cook in the house.

“I’m batching,” Burns said, using his self-styled street slang for when you are married but your wife is away.  

Excuse me?

“Yeah, batching,” he said. “You don’t know what ‘batching’ means? You people, no wonder we have a communication problem.”

Burns began lashing out in odd tirades at members of the press last year before he lost his Senate seat to Jon Tester (D) in a campaign fraught with verbal gaffes and overshadowed by Burns’s ties to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Apparently he still hates the media.


Hand sprain proves to be ill-timed for Rep. Schiff

You may be wondering why Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has a black splint on his hand. The congressman was all set to attend Fourth of July parades when he decided to practice his karate.

“I was blocking a kick. I would have been better off if I had just let them kick me,” Schiff said.

Unlike one lawmaker who prefers that colleagues not bother him about injuries (hello, Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank), Schiff doesn’t mind if people ask. “I’m not going to send out a memo telling people not to ask me what happened,” he said.

 Not two days after the kick, Schiff was scheduled to walk through parades of people wanting to shake his weakened, hurting hand.

“I went home and couldn’t shake any hands,” he said, explaining that he has a soft-tissue injury. “I ended up shaking with my left hand.”