By Betsy Rothstein - 04/23/08 04:42 PM EDT
After speaking passionately on how the U.S. should confront environmental issues at the Senate’s Earth Day press conference Tuesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) left the Radio-Television Gallery’s recording room with a more immediate problem: She couldn’t find her purse.
Standing in the gallery’s front hall, Cantwell pointed to a corner on the floor when an aide asked her where she left it. Cantwell’s staffers then shuffled around the gallery to look for their boss’s stylish black leather handbag.
The senator calmly continued speaking about her environmental agenda in a one-on-one interview with a radio reporter but eventually interrupted him to ask whether her aides had found her purse.
“So are we completely lost with my purse?” the worried senator asked one of her staffers.
At that moment, an aide made her way out of the gallery’s personnel office with Cantwell’s black bag slung over her shoulder. The gallery’s staff had scooped up the senator’s purse for safekeeping.
The radio reporter joked to a relieved Cantwell that Capitol Police could have confiscated the purse as a suspicious package.
Tractors — sexy?
Larry Kissell (D), a congressional candidate in North Carolina’s 8th district vying for Rep. Robin Hayes’s (R) seat, insists there is sex appeal in the inanimate farm vehicle known as the tractor.
In a rambling e-mail message entitled “Tractors are sexy” that was sent to his supporters on Tuesday, Kissell doesn’t exactly spell out why he thinks the vehicles are hot.
The e-mail does tackle Earth Day, “our sustainable existence,” and an apparently testy conversation he had with a conservationist “not too long ago.” The tractors-being-sexy conclusion appears to come from his claim that the unsung hero of the environmental movement is the local family farmer.
He concludes the unusual e-mail by asking recipients to do something parents advise against: Talk to strangers.
“Thank a complete stranger you see today for riding a bike, using a recycled shopping bag or take the time to stop by your local produce stand and get to know your local family farmer,” the e-mail states. Then it asks supporters for money.
ITK would like to thank Kissell for issuing perhaps the unsexiest press release, which was likely spoofing a Kenny Chesney song, “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy.”
Kissell writes in his e-mail, “A little positive thinking and reinforcement can go a long way.”
As it turns out, so can a press release claiming tractors are sexy.
Leanne Powell, Kissell’s campaign manager, said the release “was a message about Earth Day.” Asked if her boss really thinks tractors are sexy, Powell laughed, saying, “His point was we need to start paying attention to farmers.”
Swimming with sharks
Two aides to Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) plan to swim for their lives in late June when they take part in the Shark Fest Swim in California.
In the event, Pepper Pennington, Feeney’s spokeswoman, and Emily Smith, a legislative assistant, will jet out to sea by boat to Alcatraz, the former prison. Then they will be dropped into the icy water for a mile-and-a-half swim back to shore. The name of the swim comes from a time when prisoners were deterred from escaping by being told the waters were shark-infested.
“We looked it up and there are just bottom-feeding sharks,” Pennington assures.
Both women swam competitively in high school and played water polo.But so far, neither has trained vigorously for this swim. While Pennington walks on an inclined treadmill for 30 minutes a few times a week, Smith uses the StairMaster four to five times weekly, lifts weights and swims twice a week.
“Emily was a lifeguard,” says Pennington. “I’m encouraging her to renew her certification.”
On a serious note, she says, “I’m not looking to come in first. I just want to get to the other side and have a cool story to tell.”
Pennington believes wetsuits and nerves will get them through the ordeal. She says what she fears most is not the swim, but the water temperature.
“My theory is if my heart is in good cardio shape, that will be enough,” she said. “My adrenaline will get me through.”
In the meantime, neither of their mothers is looking forward to the shark-infested swim.
“My mom is not thrilled,” Pennington confesses.
“My mom is not thrilled, either,” Smith said.
Rep. McCrery’s dusty car gets a battery, bath
When last we left Rep. Jim McCrery’s (R-La.) car, it was sitting lonely in the basement of the Rayburn House Office Building garage, covered in black dust. Its only company was the random pranksters who came by to write their date in the dust to prove how long it had gone without a bath.
McCrery, who is now driving a shiny Buick he leased, tried to remember to take a staffer down once a year or so to crank it up.
Things have turned around for the burgundy Ford Taurus SHO, known affectionately to his bemused staffers as “The SHO.”
McCrery said last week that he had gotten the vehicle a new battery and a bath. The lease is up soon on his Buick, he said, “so I might start driving it around.”
He’s also moved it to another location, possibly confusing some who used the car as a landmark as they tried to navigate the labyrinthine passages of the House garage.
Sen. Graham: A face fit for newspaper
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was in the middle of a serious speech Tuesday about a bill on education benefits for armed service members when a TV cameraman lumbered into the room late, with his cell phone ringing, no less.
Rather than get annoyed, Graham recognized the opportunity to get another camera on his cause.
“Keep comin’,” Graham said. “Why don’t we let them set up?”
While the cameraman opened his tripod, Graham offered some self-deprecating humor.
“Nothing against print,” he said. “I look and sound better in print — I know that.”
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), waiting beside Graham to speak, chimed in, “Did you get that haircut just for today?”