By Emily Heil - 11/21/06 12:00 AM EST
Retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is apparently un-roastable. He’s not even lightly toastable.
On Thursday, newly minted Senate Minority Leader-to-be Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hosted a little goodbye get-together in the Capitol Building’s Mansfield Room for his buddy Frist and friends both on and off the Hill. Such occasions are usually marked with much ribbing, roasting and good cheer. And, naturally, we thought it would be a good chance to finally get senators to ’fess up about some of their favorite funny Frist moments.
Alas, there don’t seem to be many.
“I don’t think he’s the sort of person you hear anything funny about,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who said some nice things about Frist, but couldn’t seem to cough up any funny tales about him.
Also unable to dish was Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who did say he would miss having a practicing physician around the chamber for impromptu medical consultations.
“He’s been a confidante and sort of personal physician as well as our fearless leader,” he said.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) has traveled extensively with Frist, so we thought he might have caught the unflappable doc in a few unguarded moments. Specter insists that Frist “has a lighter side” but when asked for some dish, offered only this: “He’s an inveterate Blackberry-er.”
Oooh, do tell.
The Senator Burns meltdown continues
An outgoing senator’s to-do list might read something like this: clean desk, set “out of office” e-mail response, call lobbyist friends about possible job opportunities.
But one of the chamber’s short-timers has added “attack the media” to the list.
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who was defeated by Democrat Jon Tester, has engaged in a streak of public outbursts directed at the media, which he is blaming for his loss. Burns has lashed out at several reporters who have approached him around the Capitol.
We reported last week that Burns unloaded on a reporter from The Hill, sarcastically telling the reporter how “smart” members of the media are. And the Burns rants kept coming. According to an Associated Press story, Burns barked at several Montana reporters, claiming that they “weren’t very honest with me.”
According to the story, Burns then recommended that a group of reporters read the 109th Psalm in the Bible, which reads: “Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.” Ouch.
Montana Democrats gleefully sent out an email citing the AP story, as well as a story in CQ Today in which the snarling Burns even resorted to profanity when asked about an appropriations matter.
“I’m not going to negotiate my problems with the goddamn press,” Burns snapped, according to the CQ story, quoted in the Democrats’ e-mail. He then added, “Goodbye! Goodbye! Goodbye!” and “You don’t run this place. You think you do. But you don’t.”
We spotted Burns on Thursday muttering under his breath as he made his way through a pack of reporters while walking from the elevators to the Senate floor for a vote. We couldn’t catch what he as saying — but judging from his earlier comments, that might be a good thing.
Seersucker Days in danger
Important policy questions aside, could the new Democratic majority spell doom for the beloved (by some) Senate tradition of Seersucker Days?
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) may hasten the demise of the day when senators turn out in goofy striped suits and white bucks, resembling ice cream salesmen.
He told one of our spies that his wife put his suit through the wash and ruined it. Now Mrs. Cornyn is refusing to let him buy a replacement. But Cornyn isn’t totally down on Senate traditions. He has said he’d like to see more “singing senators,” the bipartisan group of crooning lawmakers that new Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is reviving.
Rep. Katherine Harris turns up in Playboy
Over the weekend we got a juicy tip that Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) was in the December issue of Playboy. We were all too excited to find out what “Kitty,” who has posed for previous photos wearing tight clothing while perched on horses, was going to expose. She’s on page 60, our tipster said. So we raced out to buy it.
True enough, Harris appears on page 60 — but there are no nude photographs of her. Instead, annoyingly enough after all her crazy antics, she’s depicted in a photo glad-handing in a snug-fitting white suit — showing no more skin than she did on the House floor. A brief article entitled “Mouth Beach” discusses her Senate GOP primary campaign and, of all things, her religious beliefs.
According to the Playboy piece, Harris told the Florida Baptist Witness, a religious journal, that the separation of church and state was “a lie we have been told.” She said it was “wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers.”
Judd makes Capitol connection
Celebrity spotted: That was Naomi Judd at Zola last Monday, eating dinner with her husband. A source from the sleek downtown eatery tells us that the country legend enjoyed margaritas before tucking into the broiled salmon filet with saffron-scented orzo, Spanish olives, snow peas and a citrus butter.
Judd apparently has a Hill connection: She told folks at Zola that she was in town to visit her nephew, who recently moved to town and is working in the Capitol.
Judd’s publicist tells us she was in D.C. to reunite with sister Wynonna (in a rare joint appearance for the former duo, the Judds) at the groundbreaking for the new memorial on the Mall in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and made no mention of the Hill-rat nephew.
Betsy Rothstein contributed to this page.