Rep. Pelosi faces Bonds dilemma

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faces a difficult decision in the coming weeks. And it has nothing to do with Iraq, the budget or immigration.

San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, a Pelosi constituent, needs only 11 more home runs to break Hank Aaron’s all-time record of 755 career dingers.

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Like some lawmakers in Congress, Bonds is under a cloud of ethics allegations. There has been widespread speculation that he committed perjury when he testified before a grand jury on his alleged use of illegal steroids.

In 2001, Pelosi strongly supported Bonds when he broke the single-season home run record. She introduced a resolution congratulating him for his accomplishment, which subsequently passed the House by voice vote. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) moved a companion measure through the upper chamber months later.

Pelosi, who removed Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) from the Ways and Means Committee in the wake of ethical allegations that have not been proven, has publicly defended Bonds.

Pelosi last year said, “[Bonds] is innocent of any charges until proven otherwise.”

(Under the Dome tried to bait Jefferson’s office into commenting, but it didn’t bite.)

As Democrats try to clean up what they call a culture of corruption, Pelosi is faced with the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t choice of publicly praising her moody constituent when he breaks the record, or letting her silence speak volumes.

Aaron has said he won’t attend Bonds’s games this year, but one source said he was scheduled to be at a Democratic fundraiser spearheaded by Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) last night. Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership were expected to be there to greet Aaron, who is Scott’s brother-in-law.

The timing of the Scott fundraiser and the soon-to-be-broken home run record is said to be coincidental, but sources say that Democrats are touchy on the issue.

Pelosi’s office didn’t comment; Feinstein could not be reached in press time.

Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Tom Davis (R-Va.), who led the House Government Reform panel’s investigation into steroid use in Major League Baseball during the last Congress, also declined to comment.

 


Rep. Flake triggers Tucker Carlson angst

 

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) was supposed to debate the new Senate immigration reform bill with Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) on MSNBC with Tucker Carlson Tuesday afternoon. But as the 4 p.m. slot inched closer and Flake was nowhere to be found, Tucker grew agitated.

MSNBC had been promoting the debate between the two GOP lawmakers all afternoon.

Carlson opened his show by saying, “Two Republican congressmen from border states, Ed Royce of California and Jeff Flake of Arizona, have clashed over immigration policy for weeks … Mr. Royce opposes the bill and Mr. Flake supports it. Our plan was to have a debate between the two of them on the set here. Unfortunately, Mr. Flake moments ago flaked out, didn’t come … We are proud to have Ed Royce joining us.”

As of five minutes before airtime, Flake’s office had not gotten in touch with MSNBC, sources said.

Flake’s office said the congressman did not flake out.

“The House called a vote at 3:53 p.m. and he turned around and started running toward the chamber,” said Flake spokesman Matthew Specht, explaining his boss was on North Capitol Street, where the show is filmed.

“It’s too bad,” added Specht. “Mr. Flake has done the show many times. It’s just a case of bad timing.”

Specht said he contacted the show’s producer as soon as he could, and said he has the e-mail exchange to prove it.

Under the Dome checked the Congressional Record to ascertain when the votes around that time occurred. There was one completed at 4:23 p.m. and another gaveled at 4:30. Flake and Royce registered votes for both.

 


Edwards goes out on a limb

 

In a bold statement, Democratic White House contender John Edwards Tuesday ruled out the possibility of a robot or space alien someday becoming president of the United States.

At the same time, he also settled the long-standing debate over whether President William Howard Taft was, in fact, a bear.

“All of us are human,” the former senator from North Carolina told Matt Lauer on NBC’s “Today Show.” “We never had a president who wasn’t. We’re never going to have one who isn’t.”

 


Kerry is a fan of GoGreen

 

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers yesterday met with the creator of GoGreen Man, the latest superhero from a neighborhood near you.

GoGreen Man was created by Jonathan Lee, a fourth-grader from Ridgeland, Miss., who wanted to do something fun to help clean up the environment.

Jonathan and his parents wrote a short book on GoGreen Man, complete with superhero villains such as Dr. Pollution.

Though his arch-nemesis is putting up quite a fight, our superhero is confident. “I think kids can learn about it because I wrote it from a kid’s point of view,” said Jonathan.

Kerry agrees. “We’ve been fighting this battle for a long time,” he said, “but I think if he gets more people enlisted in his army, then that’s how you win.”

 


Congressman Shuler’s aides let boss go on this trip alone

 

Freshman Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) this weekend is headed to western North Carolina’s Cheoah River for a rafting trip to promote eco-tourism and rural economic development.

He will be joined by two guides from the Nantahala Outdoor Center. There is space for six people in the boat, but his staff is a bit frightened about joining their boss on this trip.

“I’m thinking I’m not quite ready for class-four and -five rapids,” said Shuler’s spokesman, Andrew Whalen. “The trip he’s doing is the most difficult one that they do.”

But Shuler may not be so ready either. After all, he ended his football career with the Washington Redskins because of a foot injury.

But Whalen affirms that his boss is no amateur rafter. “He has some whitewater experience,” Whalen said.

 



Rep. Brady mixed it up with boxing legends

 

Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) recently went through a bruising primary in his failed bid to become the next mayor of Philadelphia.

But then, Brady is used to mixing it up. In the late 1960s he was Joe Frazier’s sparring partner. After Frazier beat Muhammad Ali in the first of three historic bouts, Ali asked Brady to spar with him.

While an apprentice with the carpenters’ union in Philadelphia, Brady would hit the gym after work and spar with Sonny Liston, another heavyweight champ.

Jonathan E. Kaplan, Klaus Marre, Betsy Rothstein, and Ilan Wurman contributed to this page.