Sen. Thune is no cheap date

{mosimage}Here are two things you probably didn’t know about Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). First, he’s not a cheap date.  Second, he’s charitable with his time.

With slicked-back dark locks and piercing blue eyes, he’s known as the best-looking senator. But getting time with him can cost you thousands.

Financial disclosure records released last Friday reveal that Thune attended six meals for the overall price tag of $8,300 during 2007. That’s an average of more than $1,380 per rubber chicken.

They weren’t dates, as the senator is happily married. Thune, a potential vice presidential candidate for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), had auctioned off his time.

Several constituents had bid and won meals with the South Dakota Republican at charity auctions throughout 2007. Funds went to charities such as the Teddy Bear Den, which provides baby items to low-income parents.


Ari Fleischer to discuss his lisp


In the ’70s, the world watched as TV’s Cindy Brady practiced her “She sells seashells by the seashore” rhyme to free herself from a lisp on the sitcom, “The Brady Brunch.” Now, Ari Fleischer, former spokesman to President Bush, will discuss — of all things — his childhood lisp at the D.C. Scottish Rite Center Auditorium on June 24.

The gathering is to celebrate the center for childhood language disorders. First opened in 1989 and dedicated by then-first lady Barbara Bush, the center, a branch of the Free Masonry, has provided free care for children with language disabilities for 17 years. The center specializes in stuttering. Lisps are also addressed there.

“He [Fleischer] had a lisp in the first grade,” said Matt Keller, the center’s spokesman. “He went to therapy and solved it. It could be argued that had he not fixed the problem, one could say he [may not] have been as effective a communicator as he is today.”


Cheney and Lieberman show

Word spread like wildfire last Thursday morning on the Senate Hart Office Building’s seventh floor that an important visitor was in Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (I-Conn.) office.

The guest, Vice President Dick Cheney, had a “huge entourage,” said a Democratic Senate aide. Secret Service forced aides in neighboring offices to avoid the area and find alternative routes to their own offices.

Cheney spent 30 minutes in the senator’s office. “He was looking for a new undisclosed location,” Lieberman joked.

The reason for the visit was that Cheney was appearing with Lieberman on a regular radio gig on WPLR’s “Chaz & AJ” show. The senator invites on guests, frequently other senators. The show’s producers had wanted Lieberman to secure President Bush.

“I saw the list and I said, ‘Why not throw in the pope?’ ” Lieberman said.

Ultimately, they settled on Cheney.

Aides on the seventh floor reacted to the visit, with one Democratic staffer remarking, “It’s not like Joe isn’t going to be on board with whatever the hell they do.”

Lieberman gave Cheney a favorable review.

“I thought he was good,” he said.

 

J-Lo visits Sen. Kennedy’s office, too

Singer and actress Jennifer Lopez nearly sneaked into and out of presumed Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s (Ill.) office last Tuesday unseen, but her visit earlier that day to Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) office went completely unnoticed.

Kennedy spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner confirmed that Lopez visited the education counsel for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Kennedy chairs.

“She was here exploring areas in K-12 and early education in which her foundation may be able to leverage investments and attention,” Wagoner wrote in an e-mail to ITK.

Lopez did not meet with Kennedy, who was in Massachusetts recovering from brain surgery.

David Washington, a consultant to Lopez, would not confirm whether Lopez is starting a new foundation.

“As you can imagine, she’s very protective of her privacy,” he said.

Lopez made no time for Kennedy’s House counterpart, Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), who chairs the Education and Labor Committee.

Miller, when asked if Lopez had visited his office, said: “No. I would’ve remembered that.”


Zeno Baucus, Senator’s son, shows upper body strength

Before Zeno Baucus, Sen. Max Baucus’s (D-Mont.) son, and Stephanie Denton walked down the aisle last weekend, they created the website of all websites.

The couple married in Big Sky, Mont., said their elaborate wedding webpage. The site has photographs of the two, both Washington attorneys, frolicking in a meadow near a barbed-wire fence and standing before blue and white star-shaped cellophane balloons dressed in cocktail wear. In one photograph, Zeno displays his upper body strength, easily cradling the electric-blonde Denton in his arms while she kicks out her black boots and flashes a big smile.

The couple reached across the aisle and asked Melissa Shuffield, a former spokeswoman at John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) Senate office who now works on his presidential campaign, to be a bridesmaid.

For viewing pleasure, visit www.stephanieandzeno.com .


Rep. Keller hits 100-pound mark: ‘My life was easier as a fat guy’

Rep. Ric Keller (R-Fla.), the lawmaker who has been shrinking for the past year, hit the mark he has been waiting for: 100 pounds of weight loss. His body fat is 6.8 percent.

Keller was ecstatic to reach his goal weight last Thursday morning, as it means the bulk of the hard work is done.

He says he won’t try to lose any more. “I’m done,” said Keller, who has gone from 255 to 155 pounds.

It wasn’t easy. The lawmaker, who carries around his own personal cooler of food, sometimes hit plateaus where the weight would not come off. Still, he persevered with less calories and more cardio, losing on average two pounds a week for the past 50 weeks.

One downfall of the weight loss, he said, is that his wife now has more expectations of him in the care of their 20-month-old and three-month-old daughters. “My life was easier as a fat guy,” he joked. “My wife has me changing diapers and washing dishes.”

On a serious note, he said, “It feels great. I ran seven miles this morning.”

The congressman remembers back to July, when running five minutes on the treadmill felt hard. “It was much more difficult to run that five minutes than seven miles,” he said.