Rep. Souder leaves Capitol café in a huff

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) stormed out of a café in the Capitol basement in a fit of irritation last week. The reason? His turkey sandwich — it was grilled, not toasted.

With just a few people in line at the deli counter, the café was not bustling. But Souder was apparently in a rush and preoccupied, hunched over his BlackBerry for much of the time. First, he asked for his sandwich to be grilled. Then, toasted. The deli employee grew confused.

“Big guy, you want lettuce and tomato?” he called out to Souder.

Souder then realized his sandwich was being grilled, not toasted. “I said toasted,” the congressman said. To which the employee replied, “Nah, man, you said grilled.” Still, he offered to re-make the sandwich.

Souder then mumbled angrily, “It’s already taking too long,” and left, sandwich-less.

Souder had a different take on the incident.

“Mr. Souder was asked for — and gave — his order three times,” wrote Souder spokesman Mark Green in an e-mail to ITK. “After around 20 minutes, he was still waiting, so he canceled the order and walked out so as to get to his next meeting on time.  Despite the poor service, he decided not to file a complaint. We are disappointed that what happened has been misrepresented to you.”


Rep. Poe: Pro-Sarkozy but anti-France

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) can’t figure out just how he feels about France — whether he loves it or hates it.

Last week Poe sponsored a resolution honoring France’s new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, just in time for the French leader’s address before Congress. But he also has an interesting bumper stick on his Jeep. It reads, “Texas: It’s bigger than France.”

Poe’s spokeswoman, DeeAnn Thigpen, did not return calls.



The big reveal in Rep. Broun’s office

Life-size animals have settled into freshman Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-Ga.) Rayburn office.

Fresh from the taxidermist last week are a gigantic male African lion, a large Kodiak bear from Alaska, a water buffalo from Botswana, a nyala (a type of antelope) from South Africa, a red stag deer from Argentina and a warthog that the congressman killed in Botswana.  

Broun, who worked as a volunteer lobbyist for Safari Club International in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is serious about his gun activism.  

“My office was pretty bleak before we got these things in here,” he said. “Now it feels like mine.”

Behind each animal is a story. Broun has a strict policy of eating every animal he shoots. The roasted warthog, he said, was “the very best meal I ate in Africa.”

Broun insists he is not trying to outdo other lawmakers, such as Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who also has a spectacular animal display in his office.

“It’s all about memories and the shot and who I was with,” Broun said. “It’s not about bragging or anything else.”

John Kennedy, Broun’s spokesman, said no constituents have expressed fright over the animals during office meetings. “I have not seen anyone express any reservations about them, but then again, PETA has not been in,” he said.


K.B. Meek: Aspiring congressman offers fresh perspective on politicians  

Kendrick B. Meek Jr., the 10-year-old son of Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), was walking around the Capitol last week decked out in an Al Gore-beige suit and shiny black shoes. ITK caught up with K.B., as he is called, in the Rayburn Room for a quick chat about the “famous” people he has met, as well as his possible political aspirations.

“It’s really interesting to see how the senators and congressmen decide their votes and stuff,” he said. “They’re all trying to yell at each other and when their time gets expired they keep on talking.”

Which famous politicians has K.B. met? He lists House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and President Bush, although he added that Bush “isn’t really famous to me.”

K.B. says he definitely envisions himself in Congress someday. “It’s cool because I get to go to a lot of the places with [my dad], a lot of hotels, a lot of resorts,” he said.

K.B. had the day off from school; he usually visits the Hill with his 12-year-old sister Lauren, who wasn’t there that day.


Emanuel’s exclusivity among scribes

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.) is known for his cliquishness and preference for certain reporters over others. When he comes out into the Speaker’s Lobby, reporters grow skittish — will he talk to me or won’t he?

Last week, he was on a mission to speak with Carl Hulse of The New York Times, who couldn’t be found. Another reporter approached: “Mr. Emanuel, you have a minute?” He didn’t, really. After all, he was looking for Hulse, who had put in a request to speak with him.

Out of earshot of Emanuel, two BNA reporters complained about Emanuel’s preferential ways. “Oh, he’s got time to talk to The New York Times but he won’t talk to us,” one reporter said.


Where’s Bill Hopper?

Interns have it rough. Last week, yet another intern got confused over the infamous bill hopper, a wooden magazine holder on the House floor that holds — what else? — the bills.

But life can get so confusing.

“Where’s the hopper?” an intern asked. A security officer directed him to the men’s room off the House Floor, thinking “hopper” was slang for men’s room, like the “head” or the “can.”  

In years past, interns have come to the Speaker’s Lobby looking for an actual man named Bill Hopper. He was nowhere to be found.



Vlogging is new ‘in’ thing among 30-something lawmakers
 
Vlogging — it’s definitely the next generation of blogging. Last week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) 30-something Working Group set off on a new adventure by conducting their own interviews and posting them on the Internet.

Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) interviewed Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) on toy safety. He also taped members last Tuesday night after they voted on the Labor, Health and Human Services spending bill, as they were leaving the Capitol steps at 10:30 p.m.

Meek has no fancy camera. It’s the family camera he uses to film birthday parties and car trips. “We’re moving from the stone tablet age to the digital age, from the television screen to the computer screen, from Fred Flintstone to George Jetson,” Meek said, adding that the target audience is YouTube, Facebook and MySpace.   


Death of a Blackberry

Rep. Patrick McHenry’s (R-N.C.) BlackBerry met its demise last week. The congressman was in his office bathroom when he took it off his hip and set it on the sink to wash his hands. The BlackBerry then slipped into the toilet.

“It actually didn’t die,” McHenry said. “It drowned.”

If anyone has a “Death of a BlackBerry” story to share, please send to ITK at Betsyr@thehill.com.