By Betsy Rothstein - 02/04/08 04:41 PM EST
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) cannot do anything these days without getting himself into trouble — not even when he’s speaking about the obscure National Scenic Designation Act on the House floor.
During last week’s floor debate, in which he was opposed by Democratic Reps. Chris Murphy (Conn.) and Raúl Grijalva (Ariz,), Young pointed his finger to his colleagues across the aisle and declared, “New England needs energy. That side of the aisle, not only the side of the aisle in the House but also in that other body …”
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), sitting in the Speaker’s chair, interrupted and scolded him: “The gentleman will please direct his remarks to the chair.”
Young asked, “What did I say wrong?”
Lynch: “The gentleman pointed to the other side.”
Young grew agitated and warned, “I will point to you next time.”
The Alaskan lawmaker apparently can’t win. The following day he opened a legal defense fund. Young is under FBI investigation for possible corruption.
Sen. Schumer: Post-meal yawns, or low blood sugar?
After keeping reporters waiting for a 12:15 p.m. press conference last week, Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) took their seats in the Capitol’s Mansfield Room about 15 minutes late and joked about having had a nice lunch.
“Next week — lobster tail,” Schumer joked. “The more we eat, the better we think.”
As the press conference wore on, Schumer seemed to be hit with the post-lunch need for a nap.
While Reid explained the Senate’s strategy on the economic stimulus package, Schumer yawned and checked his cell phone.
Then, he apparently gave the yawns to his leader.
Trying to be discreet, Reid covered his mouth and yawned while Durbin spoke. At least one person in the audience was caught yawning, too.
But rather than suffering from digestive sluggishness, Schumer was apparently in need of a meal.
Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon remarked that the senator’s lobster tail joke was “probably just a one-liner,” since he had not in fact come from lunch before the conference and was running to a committee hearing and a policy lunch after.
Sighting: Forest Whitaker steps up for Obama
Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker and wife, Keisha, gushed over the presidential prospects of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) at the Decatur House this past weekend — fittingly, just a block from the White House.
Whitaker, an Oscar winner for his portrayal of former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland,” was celebrating his appearance on the cover of Capitol File magazine. Keisha, looking like a model in a short, form-fitting white dress and fancy updo hairstyle, noted that they would not be in town for long — they were headed to Birmingham, Ala., this week to campaign for Obama.
In a 90-second exclusive interview — that’s all his handlers would allow — Forest said he had visited eight countries last year and realized that the U.S. is sorely in need of a leader who can restore its global reputation.
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” said Whitaker, dressed handsomely in a dark suit and burgundy tie. “That’s why I’m stepping up this time.”
Whitaker, who is now starring in “The Great Debaters,” has never visited Capitol Hill.
But don’t count him out. Whitaker, a vegetarian, has been known to advocate for vegetarianism, and has even recorded a public service announcement with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
Rep. Reichert turns up as ‘Jeopardy!’ question
The next best thing to being a contestant on “Jeopardy!” may be being a question in the “Smorgasbord” category.
This is what happened to Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) last Wednesday evening as game show host Alex Trebek declared, “For $600: In 2006, Rep. Dave Reichert marked the anniversary of this 1989 wreck by asking that $4.5 billion finally be paid to Alaskans.”
The question, delivered by Brandon Jones, a 31-year-old culinary student from Chicago: “What is Exxon Valdez?”
In 2006, Reichert fought for the victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, demanding that the company pay damages to those who suffered from the incident.
“It was exciting to have his efforts go on national television,” said spokeswoman Abigail Shilling, explaining that her boss is still fighting for this cause. Although the congressman himself did not catch his mention, his mother, Marlys Klontz, who lives in Auburn, Wash., did. She’s an avid “Jeopardy!” watcher.