Jeff Ross: 'Punch lines to the front lines'

“There’s nothing better than hearing a joke penetrate a bulletproof vest,” comedian Jeffrey Ross says in “Patriot Act,” his new Showtime documentary about a USO tour he took with Drew Carey and other comics.

“There’s nothing better than hearing a joke penetrate a bulletproof vest,” comedian Jeffrey Ross says in “Patriot Act,” his new Showtime documentary about a USO tour he took with Drew Carey and other comics.

Ross screened the film Monday night at the Loews Georgetown before an audience that included former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers and the brass of the USO.

Because they’re so eager to laugh, “military audiences give you the benefit of the doubt,” Ross told The Hill. The goal in putting his material together for such an appearance is to tell a few quick jokes “about the general and the situation,” then “try to take them as far away for as long as possible. It’s a 20-minute emotional vacation.”

As the movie begins, Ross draws his inspiration from Bob Hope, whose countless USO trips became part of his legend. But Ross and his peers, one can’t help but notice, drop more f-bombs in one show than Hope probably did in his entire life.

“There are no subtleties in a war zone,” Ross said. “These guys are adults.”

In editing the footage — mostly taken from his handheld camera — he said he tried to punctuate the humor with serious moments. “I learned from Springsteen concerts as a kid,” he said. “High, low, high, low.”

For his part, Myers said, he never got to see many USO shows on his various tours of duty in Vietnam and elsewhere. But he did recall a moment with Chicago Bears great Gayle Sayers, who was on a USO tour himself, as their plane was catapulted off an aircraft carrier in rough seas.

Sayers, clearly nervous about the whole thing, looked to Myers for reassurance, which he gave despite his own nerves. “Not that I knew it was OK,” Myers explained. “I just didn’t want him to die all tensed up.”


Lieberman: With friends like these …

You might not know that some of Connecticut’s largest unions endorsed Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) on Tuesday night in his primary contest against businessman Ned Lamont. Not with some of the things they said about him.

“I hope that after this is over we can get Joe Lieberman, all of us, even the ones that get along greatly with Joe, and beat the s- - - out of him,” said Ken Delacruz, Metal Trades union, quoted by WTNH, the local ABC affiliate.

And he was a Lieberman supporter. Paul Filson of the Service Employees International Union said Lieberman “supports the worst boss this country has ever had; George Bush.”

“I can go back to 1993 and say Joe Lieberman was not there on trade,” said William Rudis of the International Association of Machinists, quoted by the Hartford Courant. “We don’t need to be in Boston to spill the tea.”

Lieberman’s views, especially on Iraq, “will splatter our banner with the blood of innocent people,” said Bill Shortell, vice president of the Central Connecticut Labor Council. “No. No. We’ve got to go with Lamont.”

But others looked back on their history with the incumbent. “You’re asking me to put aside 36 years with Joe Lieberman,” said 81-year-old Nick Aiello, who supported Lieberman in his first political race in 1970.


Rep. Jim Marshall becomes a ranger hall of famer today

What do Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) and America’s leading man, Tom Hanks, have in common? Both will be inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame today at Fort Benning, Ga.

The son and grandson of army generals, Marshall, according to the biography on his website, left Princeton in 1968 “compelled by a sense of duty and fairness … to enlist in the Army and volunteer for infantry combat in Vietnam, where he served as an Airborne Ranger.” He was awarded two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart.

“Those two years were a special time for me,” Marshall told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “Being selected for the Hall of Fame is quite an honor, particularly since I was in the Army such a brief time. They may have decided to honor me for my decision in 1968 to do something none of my classmates ever dreamed of — joining the Army.”

Marshall is among a class of 17 to be inducted today. Among them is Hanks, an honorary inductee who starred in “Saving Private Ryan.”

According to the Ledger-Enquirer, there are no indications that Hanks plans to attend.


Watch for the way to the Capitol’s old marble baths

C-SPAN’s groundbreaking nine-hour documentary series “The Capitol” airs again from July 6-8.

Which is good if you love either history or spa treatments.

Executive producer Mark Farkas said if you watch closely, “you could probably find your way” to the old Senate baths.

Eight marble baths were constructed in the 1850s, explained Farkas. Senators used to give themselves a soak and a primp before going up to give speeches or vote.

“There were barbershops down there as well,” he said. “They are now relics of that part of the building.”

Only two baths now remain. They are located in a mechanical shop, just up the escalator into the Capitol itself if one is coming from the Russell Senate Office Building.

Farkas and his camera crew unearthed them along with Senate Associate Historian Don Ritchie, who gave the documentary crew a “full underground tour” of the Capitol.

He said people ultimately began to look askance on the baths when senators began bringing women in there.

Woman or man, there’ll be props in this space to the first person who makes it — so watch carefully.


Golden Bear comes to the Hill

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus attended the House Republican Conference meeting yesterday morning. He was in town to promote the First Tee, a program that promotes golf among inner-city children.

In his brief remarks to the members, Nicklaus said, “I’m happy to see so many Republicans in Congress. I hope to see this many in the fall.”

The Golden Bear signed hats and gave out gift bags promoting the First Tee.

During a press briefing afterward, conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio) bragged that Nicklaus is from her hometown.

Nicklaus, a longtime Republican supporter, campaigned for President Bush during the 2004 election.


Boehner tolls bell for ‘theme weeks’

House Republicans just spent two weeks lumping legislation into themed weeks. Last week was “Health Week”; this week was “Energy Week.”

But Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has apparently had enough. Such “theme weeks” will be no more.

“You know, the energy week was on a draft schedule three months ago,” Boehner said at his weekly pen-and-pad with reporters this week. “I may have referred to it once or twice here, but … the last of the theme weeks is this week. Never again.”

Boehner spokesman Kevin Madden said of the theme weeks, “By and large they were successful.” He explained that when Boehner took over he sketched out the legislative agenda through July 4.

“But rather than pigeonholing ourselves anymore … we’ll continue to sketch out priorities as we move through the legislative year.”

Patrick O’Connor contributed to this page.