Watch out! Here comes Rep. Cubin on a scooter

Women driver jokes aside, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyo.) is having a hard time navigating the halls of Congress on the scooter that she’s driving due to a leg fracture.

Last week, Cubin led a lawmaker and a reporter on a wild voyage from the Capitol to Longworth. Key up zany Roadrunner cartoon music now.

Starting point: the House Chamber. Cubin rolled into the Speaker’s Lobby and warned, “I don’t know how to use this thing.” She jerked forward. She jerked back. She nearly rode over someone’s foot.

Cubin, accompanied by Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who was carrying her crutches, attempted to take the Democratic exit from the Speaker’s Lobby. Security stopped them and said the hallway was shut down. “It’s for the Dalai Lama,” a cop explained. Burton replied jokingly, “What about me?”

Next up: A back elevator ride to the basement.

Cubin asked, “How do we get to Longworth?” 

Once outside the elevator on the basement level, Cubin and Burton looked for another elevator to take down to the subway. But on the way to that elevator, Cubin got stuck in a corner of a narrow ramp. She finally freed herself and rolled to elevator No. 2 with Burton and a reporter.
Next up: A ride to the sub-basement level.

Upon leaving that elevator Cubin warned Burton, “OK, clear out. I’d feel horrible if I crushed you.” Much to everyone’s dismay, the group could find no handicap-accessible route down to the subway.

So it was back to the basement, and another round of Cubin furiously trying to control the scooter with Burton carrying her crutches.
On the way out of the elevator, Cubin’s scooter got stuck again, and it was Burton to the rescue. Playing Super-Congressman, Burton attempted to lift the congresswoman, her scooter and her crutches out of the elevator. 

Somehow — and it wasn’t entirely clear, because the witness reporter had to step aside to laugh for a few seconds — Burton managed to free the scooter.

The group then heard about a secret freight elevator in the basement that could deliver them to the subway level. Doors opened and a dolly with refrigerator-sized boxes came out, heading straight for Cubin. More frustration ensued. Cubin wanted no part of a freight elevator ride, but Burton insisted. A short debate ensued.

Ultimately they reached an agreement. No more elevators. They would take the underground walkway to the Cannon House Office Building to reach Longworth.

Finally, everyone was happy and relaxed. Cubin and Burton headed toward the walkway with Burton still hanging onto her crutches.
We assume Cubin drove to her office without injuring Burton.

“She’s not a big fan of it,” Cubin’s spokeswoman, Kristin Walker said of the scooter, “but she’s doing well getting back and forth from the Capitol.”

Cubin recently broke her left foot in an accident that occurred in her husband Fritz’s hospital room. He has suffered from thrombocytopenia, an autoimmune illness, for the past five years, and during a recent hospital visit, she took a tumble in his room and broke three bones in five different places. The pair were hospitalized at the same time.



Kuzo the cheetah to visit Longworth  

Run for your lives! (Just kidding — we hope.) On Wednesday, the International Conservation Caucus Foundation hosts a “meet and greet” with Kuzo, a cheetah from the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.

Kuzo plans to show up to Longworth, Room 1334, from 2 to 3 p.m.

Cookies and drinks are going to be provided, the press release says. But who among us would be so bold as to eat cookies in the vicinity of a cheetah?

Additionally, does the cheetah have to go through Longworth’s metal detector? U.S. Capitol Police would not confirm.

The cheetah is “the world’s fastest land animal,” says the release, and “can reach speeds of 70 mph. The cheetah is aerodynamically built for speed and can accelerate from zero to 40 mph in three strides and to full speed in seconds more.” It’s also “endowed with a powerful heart, oversized liver and large, strong arteries.”

Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of the Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund, plans to be on hand to answer questions. She has worked with cheetahs since 1974. Her organization’s mission is to secure long-term survival of the species.



Fred Thompson’s staff hovers around Fox News at debate

All staffs of presidential hopefuls are hyped up about their boss’s performance in a debate, but none more so than campaign staffers to former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) who hovered around the Fox News space in Orlando, Fla., far more than the other campaigns.

“Just hovering, asking questions, listening, being present, making themselves known,” said Fox News’s chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, who helped moderate the debate. “I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were on a scouting mission — I’ll leave that for others to decide.”

Cameron said it is standard practice for campaigns to send moderators suggested questions in the lead-up to the debate. “Stuff that would make their candidates look good or challengers look bad,” he said.

There are other requests. It’s not quite as demanding as straining the pulp from their orange juice, said Cameron, but candidates each have special requests in terms of lighting, space and vanity aids. “We’re all sworn to secrecy [as to] what those requests are,” he says, but he did allow that Florida GOP Gov. Charlie Crist once used a rotary fan to rid himself of perspiration. “It’s the stuff to make themselves comfortable so they can focus on the battle.”

As for his own must-haves, the ever-energetic Cameron survives on his daily dose of caffeinated beverages: “It’s Red Bull and Red Bull Light for breakfast, baby!”


    
Staffer accidentally drops BlackBerry into toilet


An aide who works in the Rayburn House Office Building recently dropped his BlackBerry into the toilet. Overcome with a sense of urgency, the aide attempted to rescue his electronic lifeline. As he reached down to grab it, the automatic toilet sensor went off and the flushing began.

The aide had to dunk his hand into the water (don’t worry, it was clean) to retrieve the BlackBerry. He did retrieve it, but ahh — the poor device died in the accident.

If anyone else out there has amusing accounts of how you destroyed your BlackBerry, please share with ITK by contacting Betsyr@thehill.com.



Rep. McMorris Rodgers gets a little help from a friend

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the newest House mom, got some babysitting help from Julie Reichert, wife of Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), last week when the congresswoman was busy with legislative responsibilities.

McMorris Rodgers dropped her son, Cole, off at the Reicherts’ apartment on Capitol Hill in the morning and picked him up around 5 p.m.
The congresswoman had a busy day, during which she had to testify before the Judiciary Committee on her bill to crack down on online predators.

McMorris Rodgers and Reichert’s wife have been friends since they both arrived to Congress in 2005.

Connie Correll Partoyan, McMorris Rodgers’s chief of staff who is recently back to work from maternity leave, remarked that Reichert found the job easy. “I talked to Julie yesterday and she kept commenting on what a good baby Cole was.”

The Reicherts have three kids and six grandkids (three boys and three girls).



Emotional psoriasis videos aim to persuade lawmakers

Cure Now, an organization trying to convince lawmakers of the need for psoriasis research funding, is adding a dose of fun to a scaly, sometimes painful skin disease. It recently hosted a YouTube contest, asking sufferers to send in videos about their conditions. There were 60 contestants and nine finalists. One video involves a woman in a shower with a cheese grater.

Help pick the $7,500 grand prize winner by visiting www.psoriasis-cure-now.org.  


Sighting: Rep. Ron Paul spotted in Reagan Airport

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was spotted walking through the D Terminal of Reagan National Airport late Friday afternoon.

Waiting to board a flight to Houston, Paul was spotted walking down a hallway by a men’s restroom, where four men standing outside were whispering about who they thought he was. Eventually they figured out that he was Paul, a presidential contender.

ITK stopped Paul to ask about his prepping for last Sunday’s GOP debate in Orlando. “If the last 30 years hasn’t prepared me, nothing will,” he said.

Still, Paul did offer this tidbit:

“I’m going to prepare by riding my bike,” he said.