By Emily Heil - 11/29/06 12:00 AM EST
President Bush has pledged to work with the new Democratic majorities in Congress, but he has already gotten off on the wrong foot with Jim Webb, whose surprise victory over Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) tipped the Senate to the Democrats.
Webb, a decorated former Marine officer, hammered Allen and Bush over the unpopular war in Iraq while wearing his son’s old combat boots on the campaign trail. It seems the president may have some lingering resentment.
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.
Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.
“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.
Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.
“Jim did have a conversation with Bush at that dinner,” said Webb’s spokeswoman Kristian Denny Todd. “Basically, he asked about Jim’s son, Jim expressed the fact that he wanted to have him home.” Todd did not want to escalate matters by commenting on Bush’s response, saying, “It was a private conversation.”
A White House spokeswoman declined to give Bush’s version of the conversation.
Fake Rep. takes on colorful causes
Rep. Sherri Davis, a Republican from California, has a plucky resume, fabulous fashion sense, and a mission to eradicate yoga mat-borne illnesses. She’s colorful, quotable and, unfortunately, totally fake.
Those who aren’t up on their members of Congress, or who don’t have a congressional directory handy, might be fooled by Rep. Davis’s Internet footprints, which include a smattering of press releases, mentions on various blogs, and video clips posted on YouTube.com. She even has recommended items on Amazon.com.
The tales spread about her are just detailed enough to appear plausible. According to the press releases, which are posted on the website www.pr-inside.com and show up in Google news searches, the congresswoman is pressing legislative priorities including “a program designed to capitalize on the current ‘scrapbooking craze’ to increase youth reading levels through individual vouchers and through major tax-breaks to the American scrapbooking industry” and the Yoga Mat Cleanliness Act (YMCA), which the congresswoman promoted through appearances with actress Sarah Jessica Parker. According to the release, Parker “caught a bad case of tinea cruris [don’t ask] from using an unclean yoga mat”.
A woman purporting to be Davis appears in the YouTube clips offering bizarre policy prescriptions, such as suggesting that the problem of illegal immigration be solved by rounding up all illegal immigrants and forcing them to live in a tent city in the desert. Some viewers appeared fooled by the clips, posting comments like, “Is anyone else baffled as to how this ditz got elected? Or scared and embarrassed that she is one of the lawmakers of our country?”
Some details, though, are just too over-the-top. Davis’ releases claim she “skyrocketed to fame in the 1990s with her raunchy rock-anthem ‘(Doing the) Baby Dance,’ which reached No. 4 on the Billboard pop charts.” Before taking office, Davis also played the role of Penny Pingleton in numerous regional performances of “Hairspray.”
We tried to get to the bottom of the bottom of the ruse, but her “staffer,” who identifies himself as Jake Barnes (oddly, that’s the name of the lead character from Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”) refuses to give up his “boss.” “The idea that Congresswoman Sherri Davis, R-CA [sic] is a fictional character and not a real congresswoman is one that was planted in the media by Sherri's Democratic opponent in the congressional election this fall,” he wrote us in an e-mail.
He said he hoped to have the congresswoman, who was traveling in Vienna, give us a call. We’re holding our breath.
Sheriff, congressman, liquor-store owner … now lobbyist
The strange career of former Rep. Tommy Robinson just got a little stranger. The former Republican congressman from Arkansas is also a former sheriff who gained notoriety by chaining convicted prisoners to a fence. Now he owns a liquor store and, according to The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, just landed a new gig: as a lobbyist for the new president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Robinson told the paper he would be “brokering oil and other business deals between a number of U.S. companies” and Congo President Joseph Kabila. Robinson will get to keep the $10,000 to $12,000 monthly income earned from the lobbying position under the terms of his bankruptcy proceedings in Little Rock, the story says.
According to the report, Robinson served a five-day jail sentence earlier this year for attacking a creditor in a Brinkley, Ark. barbeque restaurant.
Wal-Mart, GOP forsake God, groups say
Some Christian conservative groups say both Wal-Mart and the Republican Party have “forsaken God.” And just as the GOP took a hit in the elections earlier this month, the groups say the retail giant’s lower-than-expected November sales figures are the wages of that sin.
Why are sales below estimates? “It is for the same reason things went south for the Republican Party this past election cycle,” read a statement by the Rev. Flip Benham and Pat McEwan, with Operation Save America and Operation Save Wal-Mart. “Wal-Mart has forsaken God and it has forsaken the people who love Him.”
The groups led protesters on Nov. 24 to picket the “gates of hell” — that is, Wal-Mart stores around the country. They say Wal-Mart, like the GOP, has strayed from its founding principles, set by founder Sam Walton, citing Wal-Mart’s dispensing of “Plan B” contraception and the fact that the retailer is a corporate member of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
GOP not taking loss by the book
Looks like Republicans aren’t looking for answers after losses in the November elections — at least not in books.
Tom Nissley, senior books editor for Amazon.com, says he hasn’t seen the same post-election bump in sales for what he thinks of as “self-help” books for losers. After Democrats got trounced in the 2004 election, he noticed a spike in sales of left-friendly books such as Tom Franks’s “What’s the Matter With Kansas” and George Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant,” books he describes as “what can we do and how to fix things” tomes.
This time, there’s no Republican analogue, he said. “That was a surprise for me,” Nissley said. “It might be that conservatives don’t think of themselves as needing to make a change.”
The two political books that have seen big boosts are “Fields of Fire,” the novel set in the Vietnam War by incoming Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) and “Pieces of Intelligence: The Existential Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld.”
Alexander Bolton contributed to this report.