By Betsy Rothstein - 03/10/08 05:18 PM EDT
While reporters were hovering outside a Capitol Hill conclave of the Michigan and Florida delegations last Wednesday night, Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) just happened to come by to use the restroom, which he did.
But when he emerged, flashing lights surprised him as several cameramen pointed their lenses at Abercrombie. They had been given instructions to shoot any live bodies they could see.
Being from Hawaii, Abercrombie doesn’t have a dog in the Michigan-Florida delegation fight, but there he was, caught in the glare of the cameras like the proverbial deer in the headlights.
Momentarily stunned by the three cameras staring him in the face, Abercrombie decided to have a little Aloha State fun when he looked back toward the restroom and shouted:
“Come on, Larry, it’s all over!”
To be clear, there was no one else in the restroom at the time, including Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) — the obvious Larry in question.
Sen. Thune narrowly misses train
Last Thursday just before noon, GOP Sens. John Thune (S.D.) and Pat Roberts (Kan.) were walking to the subway trains from a vote when Thune, with his gazelle-like stride, suddenly broke into a sprint to catch a train headed for Dirksen.
“You’ll never make it,” Roberts called after him.
Sure enough, just as Thune reached the train, the doors snapped shut.
Roberts, 71, said with a sigh, “I know. These young guys think they can zip right in.”
Thune, 46, meanwhile, grumbled that he missed the train because he was chatting with Roberts.
Under attack by Sen. Murkowski’s lunch
The fifth floor of the Dirksen Senate Office Building was overwhelmed last Thursday afternoon by a horrid fishy smell wafting out of Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (D-Alaska) office.
“The fifth floor … stinks today,” an ITK informant wrote. “I mean it reeks.”
It turns out that Murkowski was hosting a seafood lunch for a bipartisan group of 50 lawmakers. But whatever the reason, the ITK informant said, “something was a little off.”
Food served included moose stew, smoked black cod and smoked salmon.
“Unfortunately, some people just don’t appreciate the delicacies of smoked black cod,” said Murkowski. “We certainly didn’t get any complaints about the moose stew.”
Still, the ITK source wasn’t pleased. “It burns your nostrils if you even get close … try even on the fourth floor — the stairways, elevators — they are all under attack by Lisa Murkowski’s lunch. They may have to Febreze the entire Dirksen building!”
Smell has been a controversial issue before in Murkowski’s office. Last year, aides circulated an inner-office memo on spending too much time (you know what we mean) in the office restroom.
José the beaver, brought to you by Rep. Serrano
Like a proud father, Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) let everyone know during an appropriations hearing last week that a beaver has been spotted in the Bronx River for the first time in 200 years.
Serrano noted that most people don’t envision rivers when they think of the Bronx. And while the beaver “may not be important to most folks,” Serrano made clear that he takes this beaver quite seriously.
During the appropriations hearing for the Army Corps of Engineers, Serrano joked that: “After some good earmarks, the beaver is named José.”
He was only half-joking, though. The beaver is named José because Serrano has directed millions in federal funding to clean up the Bronx River shoreline.
Unlike some lawmakers who put their names on highways, libraries and medical centers through earmarks, however, Serrano noted that he “didn’t name the beaver.”
Get well, chairmen
Two powerful House panel chairmen are expected to miss votes this week, but they should be back on the Hill after the upcoming two-week recess.
Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) was hospitalized last week due to a severe bout of the flu, while Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) is scheduled to go undergo hip replacement surgery on Tuesday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Rangel expects to be released from the hospital sometime this week. “He is feeling much better,” remarked spokesman Emile Milne, noting that his boss initially had a bad cold and was sick to his stomach. “As to whether he is coming back to Washington [before recess], that is doubtful.”
What brought it on? “Probably being a congressman,” Milne said, explaining that his boss had been out in the cold at rallies in his district. “Probably being Charlie Rangel.”
CBS newsman throws mud at D.C. restaurant owner
Don’t look for Carol Joynt, owner of Nathan’s Restaurant in Georgetown, to invite former CBS newsman Roger Mudd to talk about his new memoir at one of the weekly newsmaker lunches she hosts at her restaurant.
That’s because Mudd recounts his troubled relationship with Joynt when he was filling in as a summer substitute for legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite in 1973. Joynt, one of the show’s writers, had impressed Cronkite, but not in a good way.
Mudd writes that he had “a serious problem” with Joynt, who then went by the name Carol Ross, because he was dissatisfied with her writing.
“With the 6:29 p.m. deadline always getting closer, I would set aside her copy and write my own version, in my own voice,” Mudd writes.
When Mudd asked that Joynt be taken off the show, he said she called Cronkite and complained bitterly. Cronkite told her, “Roger is doing this just to get at me.” Mudd writes that Cronkite then offered to get her back on the show, but she declined, saying, “Roger doesn’t want me. So be it.”
Mudd claims that the dust-up with Joynt, who inherited Nathan’s from her late husband in 1997, helped sour his relationship with Cronkite as “the episode remained with Cronkite as proof of my contentiousness.”
Who’s that girl?
Sen. John Warner’s (R-Va.) new 6-foot-tall communications director, Bronwyn Lance Chester, is attracting lots of attention on Capitol Hill these days.
“When she enters an Armed Services hearing, pens clatter to the floor and generals lose their place in their testimony. Rumor has it she used to be a swimsuit model,” wrote a secret admirer.
Lance Chester is as much brains as she is beauty. The brunette was indeed a swimsuit model, having won a Hawaiian Tropic contest but never clinching the title. She also worked for NATO as the Euro Atlantic Disaster Response coordinator during the Kosovo crisis. And for five years, she worked as an opinion writer for the editorial board of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and as well as for Knight Ridder/Tribune, which became the McClatchy Tribune News Service.
“For someone in her late 30s, I’m very flattered,” Lance Chester said through laughter.
But perhaps the most interesting thing about her? She was an extra in the movie “Dirty Dancing.”