The battle of the blondes

We almost did a double take when we caught sight of the cover of the new book by liberal author and strategist Susan Estrich. The usually more-sedately attired Estrich is baring some serious skin in a tight-fitting black tank top, and sporting a long mane of very blonde hair, a la her intellectual arch-nemesis, Ann Coulter.

We almost did a double take when we caught sight of the cover of the new book by liberal author and strategist Susan Estrich. The usually more-sedately attired Estrich is baring some serious skin in a tight-fitting black tank top, and sporting a long mane of very blonde hair, a la her intellectual arch-nemesis, Ann Coulter.

Wait, isn’t Estrich the one who has repeatedly criticized Coulter for using sex appeal in the service of self-promotion? Estrich’s publicist assures us that her client’s tongue is firmly in her cheek. Estrich’s outfit and pose are an exact copy of Coulter’s on the cover of the conservative lightning rod’s book, “Godless: the Church of Liberalism.”

The new tome, titled “Soulless: Ann Coulter and the Right-Wing Church of Hate,” takes on Coulter and her worldview. But Estrich insists she doesn’t bear any personal grudges against her conservative doppelganger.  “I have nothing against Ann Coulter personally,” she writes. “But I do believe she and others who share her tactics are doing tremendous damage to our public discourse …”


 Boehner defends pal in letter

House Republican leaders have been trying as much as possible to distance themselves from the scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) and his sexually explicit e-mails to underage pages.

All around Washington, lawmakers have been returning donations from Foley, minimizing their relationships with him and downplaying any knowledge of his alleged misconduct.

Another tactic is to defend your own. On Tuesday, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) defended House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) after The Washington Times called on Hastert to resign.

But from the looks of the letter Boehner sent to the paper, it appears that the majority leader is distancing himself even from his own words. “Dear Letter to the Editor,” Boehner’s missive to The Times begins. Wait. Don’t you usually open such communications with “Dear Editor”? Otherwise, you’re writing a letter to a letter to the editor. Not that Boehner doesn’t have more pressing concerns, but still ...


 Wellstone, the play: but is it better than Cats?

The late Sen. Paul Wellston (D-Minn.) had been many things to many people: college professor, environmentalist, icon of progressive politics and activist. Now, he’s the subject of a play.

“Wellstone!” opens this week at downtown St. Paul’s History Theater. The script was written by Mark Rosenwinkel and the lyrics and music by Larry Long, a longtime personal friend of the Wellstone family. Long also penned several of Wellstone’s campaign songs.

The play, a biography of the professor-turned-politician, opens Oct. 5 and runs through Nov. 5. A theater spokeswoman says the performance centers on Wellstone’s experience as the son of a Russian immigrant, his relationship with wife Sheila, and his political career. “It’s not a red-state-blue-state thing,” she says. “It’s about who he was.”



Rehab for scandals

Remember the days when discovering that a public official had a problem with alcohol or drugs was the scandal?  These days, it’s the way politicians try to deflect questions. What was it the late Speaker Tip O’Neill said about defining deviancy down?

On Sunday former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) checked himself into an alcohol rehab program after resigning from Congress after being engulfed by scandal over his sexually explicit instant messages to an under-aged page.

Not everyone buys Foley’s next step.

Here’s an anonymous e-mail making its way around the Capitol mocking the rehab-as-refuge trend.



Remember to wash them, too

Politicians gearing up for the election are no doubt preparing by practicing stump speeches, fine-tuning messages, maybe even brushing up on their media-interviewing skills. Now the American Occupational Therapy Association wants to put another item on their to-do lists for the campaign trail: Practice their handshakes.

Although candidates may have been perfecting the art of gripping and grinning for years, the association wants them to reconsider their flesh-pressing techniques. “By taking a few seconds to apply the proper handshaking skills, candidates can save the stress on their nerves and muscles for Election Day,” president Carolyn Baum says in an oh-so-helpful press release sent to reporters this week.

To develop the proper technique, the association offers hints such as, “shake from the arm, not the wrist,” “place the left hand over the back of the other person’s hand to distribute pressure more evenly,” and “break the handshake quickly and move on to the next one.”

We can only guess where the next opportunistic press release will come from. … Maybe the nation’s lip balm manufacturers will enlighten us with baby-kissing guidelines.