By Betsy Rothstein - 05/27/08 05:14 PM EDT
It seems lobbyist Jason Roe was unofficially trying out for MTV’s “Jackass” over the Memorial Day weekend. For the uninitiated, that’s a show in which regular people take part in dangerously dumb stunts.
Roe, of the Federal Strategy Group, tried to wrestle a shark while on a fishing trip in Palm Beach, Fla., with lobbyists Dan Berger, senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Federal Credit Unions, and Steve Patterson, of JP Morgan.
The three lobbyists were on a charter boat catching tons of kingfish, cobia, jacks and sharks. Patterson caught an 8-foot, 250-pound shark and fought the beast for 45 minutes before getting it onto the boat.
Roe wasn’t so fortunate. He caught a 6-foot, 200-pound shark that broke free after a fight by snapping Roe’s fishing rod.
Instead of letting the animal swim away, Roe dived into the water with his hat, sunglasses, flip-flops — and a knife. While Roe said he has swum with sharks before, he has never fought one. He swam after the shark, but this fish got away. Roe returned to the boat with his hat, sunglasses and flip-flops intact and the knife in his mouth.
In the moment, his friends were afraid for him, thinking the shark might eat Roe.
“Jason jumped out of the boat and on top of the huge shark as it dove down,” recounted Berger. “His brave-jackass move was a mixture of WWF wrestling and Rambo with a dash of Forrest Gump.”
Even the boat’s captain, Westin Russell, remarked, “In all my years of fishing, I have never seen anything that crazy before in my life. Crazy little b-----d.”
Roe’s wife, Patty Roe, chief of staff to Rep. Thelma Drake (R-Va.), wasn’t too pleased. “She’s not particularly impressed,” Roe admitted. “She didn’t find it as amusing as everyone else.”
Roe, who laughs as he recounts the story, said the extent of his fishing abilities is Rep. Tom Feeney’s (R-Fla.) deep-sea fishing tournament. “I’m not really a fisherman,” said Roe, Feeney’s former chief of staff. “I don’t know what I was thinking. ‘Think’ might be overstating the process at that time.”
And if there’s a next time? “Next time I will catch the shark,” said Roe, shrugging the incident off. “After years of living in Washington, D.C., being in the water with sharks is an everyday occurrence.”
Obama-mania hits first floor of Senate
A group of eighth-graders from Corpus Christi Catholic School got the sight of their lives last Thursday morning as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) walked into the Senate side of the Capitol with his entourage of aides and security.
Reacting as if they had seen the Beatles, or perhaps a large dinosaur, suddenly they were holding onto each other in excitement and shrieking at the top of their lungs.
After several minutes of whoops and screams, the teenagers were finally able to speak after the star offered them a brief wave from above on the second stairwell.
“We want him to win!” said Katrina Cantreras. “I like him a lot. He’s amazing!”
“I think he’s the best person up for the job,” said Ethan Heller.
Amanda Sneed remarked, “He actually tries and he tells the truth.”
As for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), they’re not so impressed with her. “Hillary is like a roller coaster,” said Joseph Nuckels. “She’ll go up and then she’ll fall.”
Brendan Smith, with a face of freckles, summed up his classmates’ sentiments. “Clinton can drop out for all we care,” he said. “We all know Obama is going to win.”
A club for black Hill men: ‘Bring a brother to the meeting’
A group of black male congressional staffers will be getting together this week to meet, greet and develop ties, according to an e-mail distributed by Senate Democratic committee staffer David John.
Described as an “informal collective,” the African-American Men on the Hill (known as AAMH) plan to gather Tuesday in H-232 in the auspicious environs of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office.
“In politics we know that there is power in collectivity — in community. Sadly, most of us spend countless hours each day so concentrated on our work that we are unable to meet, develop and strengthen relationships with one another,” says the invitation, sent around by a Senate committee staffer. At the end, it adds, “Bring a brother with you to the meeting.”
Constituent abruptly cancels meeting with Rep. Artur Davis
Malaysia Scott had to cut a lobbying trip on behalf of patients with kidney disease short earlier this month for a very good reason: She received a phone call from her transplant coordinator informing her that the kidney she had been awaiting for three years was available.
There was one catch: Scott, a board member for Dialysis Patient Citizens, needed to be home in Alabama by the next morning and there were no more commercial flights out of D.C. that night.
Luckily for Scott, her organization’s umbrella group, DaVita, the nation’s largest independent kidney dialysis provider, arranged a private jet to fly her back home that night, and she made it home in time to receive the transplant the next morning.
“They didn’t want me to lose a kidney because I was advocating for them,” Scott said in a phone interview.
Scott had been scheduled to meet with her congressman, Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), the next day to lobby on behalf of patients with kidney disease. Understandably, she canceled the meeting.
“Oh yes, it was well worth it!” she said, laughing, of missing the meeting with Davis. “I’ll get another chance to speak to him.”
Scott had been on dialysis for three years, and on home dialysis four days a week since last August. Since the surgery, she no longer has to steer clear of cheeses or milk and does not need her medicines. “You’re not really out of the woods until six months down the road, but so far, so good,” she said. “It’s hard to get used to, but I’m still enjoying every minute of it.”
Giant chicken to visit Pelosi
In what may be the week’s weirdest campaign news, the challenger to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is sending a volunteer this Thursday to the west steps of the Capitol dressed in a chicken costume.
The message? “What I am hoping to accomplish … is to demonstrate just how truly useless it is to send a chicken to Congress,” said House candidate Shirley Golub.
Golub has repeatedly called Pelosi a political coward for continuing to fund the war in Iraq.
She recently ran a “Rubber Chicken” TV ad, and can’t get off the chicken metaphor.
“All Nancy Pelosi has really done since the people made her Speaker, giving her a majority and a mandate, is feather her own nest,” she said. “First she chickened out on a marketing snow job called ‘The Surge,’ and now she is … giving war profiteers even more than they asked for.”
Taking the chicken matter seriously, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill wrote in an e-mail, “Under Speaker Pelosi, the House has repeatedly passed legislation setting a date for the responsible redeployment of our troops from Iraq ... The Speaker will continue to pass these measures until we have larger majorities in the Congress and a President willing to sign legislation to end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home.”
The primary for California’s 8th congressional district is June 3. Pelosi will not attend the chicken gathering Thursday; she will be in San Francisco.