Chairman Waxman gives Rep. Foxx the brush-off

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) looked visibly annoyed and distressed last week as Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) became prickly toward her during the question-and-answer section of last week’s hearing with baseball great Roger Clemens.

During the hearing, Foxx, who was clearly pro-Clemens, showed pictures of Clemens in his uniform and said she couldn’t see a difference between them. Eventually Waxman cut her off and said her time was up. When she tried to speak again, he pounded the gavel and told her that her time was “more than up.” Foxx shook her head in frustration and annoyance.

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), also on the committee, said, “Waxman can be a little abrasive at times. If I had been on the dais that probably wouldn’t have happened.”

 

Matthews and McConnell make nice wax figures; media and lawmakers get a scolding

The Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual dinner was a night of mingling and frolicking with fellow journalists. Those seated at the tables in an elaborate ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel seemed to enjoy themselves and chatted their way through the evening.

But the dais was a different, colder story.

To the right of the center podium was MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who during a three-course dinner of salad, steak and a cheese plate barely uttered three words to each other. Instead, they stared straight ahead, somberly eating their dinner.

“It’s like the wax museum,” one dinner guest noted.

“He [Matthews] is saving it up,” remarked another.

True enough, Matthews could have been saving his momentum for his speech. As he took to the podium, guests did not stop talking.  

When the noise continued, Matthews grew angry.

“You can keep talking, or you can give these people some respect,” he said. “If you want to have a cigarette or a conversation, go outside.”

As though he knew his tone was getting too gruff, he added sternly but with a small smile, “This is friggin’ ‘Hardball’!”

But even that wasn’t enough to diffuse the chatty crowd. “Please, please, please,”  Matthews begged at one point.


Sighting: Armey shows off a fancy hat

ITK spotted former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) outside the House Republican Cloak Room late last week pounding away on a BlackBerry. He said he was on Capitol Hill for some meetings.

Perched on a wooden cabinet beside him was his 20x beaver hat, which he says is the best kind of hat money can buy. “It’s as much as my truck,” he joked when asked the cost.  

Armey said he had received a fair amount of reaction on the hat that day — Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who has been in the Western-wear business, told him he’d never seen anything like it. In addition, Armey said, “A young lady just swooned over it, saying her dad would just love it.”


Rep. Reichert to friend: ‘I smacked my shin.’

Even Congress members slip in the rain. During last week’s downpours, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) had a fall while he and a companion were huddled under an umbrella, crossing a wet Independence Avenue and rushing to the House floor for a vote. “I ended up slipping and falling,” he said. “I smacked my shin.”

Reichert fared better than Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who broke his arm last week after slipping on an icy sidewalk.


Rep. Emanuel gives reporter a kick in the pants — literally  

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) looked positively giddy in the Speaker’s Lobby last Thursday. While walking and chatting alongside The Washington Post’s Paul Kane, he gave the reporter a chicken-wing kick on his backside, schoolgirl style. Kane seemed unfazed; the two laughed and continued talking.

Perhaps his good mood had something to do with his positively reviewed performance at the previous night’s Washington Press Club Foundation Annual Congressional Dinner.  

Kane declined to comment on the incident.


Former Olympic gymnast does backflips for Obama

Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes, on the Hill last week for a press conference on Darfur, told ITK that she is “proudly supporting Barack Obama” in this year’s presidential race.

The Maryland-based gymnast was in the Capitol on the day of her state’s primary. When asked if she had voted, she said, “That’s where I’m going now. My sister reminded me.”

Dawes, a native of Silver Spring, Md., basked in gold medal glory at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as part of the American women’s team performance that included Kerri Strug’s famous one-foot landing off the vault.

She was joined on the Hill by an Olympic colleague: Joey Cheek, a gold-medal speed skater and leader of an organization on Darfur. He wasn’t nearly as forthright about his thoughts on the presidential race.

“No comment,” he said. “I have to stay on message, right?”