By Emily Heil - 01/04/07 12:00 AM EST
Like Paris Hilton, Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) has a penchant for wearing leopard print, and, like the paparazzi princess, he spends a lot of time in front of cameras. OK, so the leopard spots are on a vest that winks at constituents from under a staid suit, and the cameras trained on the senator belong to C-SPAN, rather than Us Weekly.
But it turns out that Byrd, who at 89 is the Senate’s oldest member, has something else in common with Hilton and her celebutante coterie: a thirst for Red Bull, the caffeine-laden energy drink that’s a favorite of the club-going set.
Byrd’s Red Bull habit was mentioned in passing in a New York Times piece about how the foothold of the majority in the Senate often depends on the health of its members.
Byrd spokesman Tom Gavin confirmed that his boss does, indeed, drink Red Bull, in addition to coffee, milk and Gatorade (red and orange). But Gavin insists that although Byrd sometimes imbibes the hipster beverage, he’s not about to adopt a club-hopping lifestyle. “He likes Bob Evans and the Dairy Queen and Shoney’s,” Gavin said. “And there’s this little greasy spoon in Charleston called the Southern Kitchen that he always stops by.”
Hardly star-studded hotspots. And Gavin said his boss is energized, even sans caffeine, about the new Democratic majority in the Senate, which puts him at the head of the Appropriations Committee. “He’s on fire and ready to go,” he said. “He’s got more energy than the staff.”
Smith frames bit of Ford history
Mourners at the Capitol for the funeral of former President Gerald Ford may have witnessed history, but one senator owns a bit of it.
Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) is the proud possessor of an original copy of Ford’s pardon of outgoing President Richard Nixon, Smith spokesman R.C. Hammond said. The pardon, which is credited with Ford’s later defeat by Jimmy Carter, is part of Smith’s collection of political memorabilia, which includes an array of campaign buttons as well as an original copy of Nixon’s resignation speech.
Smith isn’t particularly a Ford or a Nixon buff: “He’s kind of a history nut and a fan of presidential and political paraphernalia,” Hammond, who didn’t know how much the senator paid for the artifacts, said.
The collection is on display in Smith’s office in the frozen-food company he owns in Pendleton, Ore.
So that’s what he means by ‘humble’
The new era of bipartisanship we’ve been hearing so much about? It may have been over before it began. According to a lengthy profile of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) that Ryan Lizza penned for GQ, shortly before camera-ready members of the Democratic leadership basked in the glory of their House takeover, Emanuel had a not-so-nice suggestion for his GOP opponents.
According to the closing anecdote in the GQ story, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee jumped atop a desk to address the gathered DCCC staffers after CNN projected that Democrats had captured the House. “The Republicans,” he yelled, “can go f— themselves.”
The outburst followed a scene in which Emanuel rehearsed a speech he planned to deliver that night that included the much-more-conciliatory lines: “We accept your votes, not as a victory for our party but as an opportunity for our country. And we humbly accept your challenge.”
And another dirty-talking Dem is causing a stir among Republican staffers. GOP staffers have been smirking over an article in the Rochester, N.Y. alternative newsweekly, City, in which new Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) calls outgoing Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) a “prick,” accusing him of complaining about a report posted on her website in which the congresswoman listed amendments that were barred from the House floor.
Dreier on Tuesday sent a letter to Slaughter bemoaning Dems’ plans to prevent Republicans from offering amendments to the first bills of the new Congress. He made no mention of the published insult, instead congratulating her on her new position and none-too-gently reminding her of Democrats’ post-election vows to open the floor up for GOP amendments.
New era of bipartisanship? Don’t count on it.
Open doors for Michigan mourners
Eyebrows around the Longworth House Office Building were raised on Monday when some offices, including that of Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.), opted to remain open during the Capitol memorial services for former President Ford.
Members of Congress have been on their best behavior after taking heat for a poor showing during Ford’s first Capitol service over the weekend. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) advised Democrats to shutter their offices Tuesday to show respect for the former prez. And Ehlers represents Grand Rapids, Ford’s hometown. “A lot of people [staffers] are saying it’s disgusting,” one Democratic aide said of the open doors.
But Ehlers, it turns out, has a perfectly sound reason for what some staffers considered a snub. Many mourners who visited Washington to pay tribute to Ford were constituents from his district, Ehlers chief of staff Bill McBride said. “People have had questions about how to get here and there, and we wanted to be here to answer their questions,” he said. The office wasn’t officially open, but a few staffers were on hand to field constituents’ requests, McBride added.