By Jeff Dufour - 05/11/06 12:00 AM EDT
Actress Glenn Close was on the Hill yesterday to discuss a different kind of dangerous liaison — that between wild predators and their prey.
Close joined Reps. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in the House Science Committee Room for the Hill premiere of “Living with Predators,” a documentary she narrated for the Wildlife Conservation Society.
The film focuses on the threats to big cats and wild dogs by vanishing habitats, depletion of their food sources, disease and other factors.
She noted that despite growing up in the “wilds of Connecticut” her father spent 16 years in Africa, where she travels often. Before the event, she told members about a horseback safari she took with her daughter and how they were tracked by a lioness during the trip.
Fortunately, they were able to avoid becoming prey themselves (perhaps the lioness heard about what she did to that pet rabbit or those poor Dalmatians).
Close should have stuck around to thank another celebrity sighted on the Hill yesterday, Chuck Norris. After all, as the “Chuck Norris Facts” that have been circulating via e-mail make clear: “There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals that Chuck Norris allows to live.”
The legendary tough guy appeared with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) at an afternoon news conference to promote Norris’s “KICKSTART” program. “KICKSTART” aims to keeps kids off drugs, out of gangs and to build their self-confidence.
Hutchison’s spokesman said that as a member of the Appropriations Committee she has put in a request for federal funding for the program. He added that she had made a cameo appearance on Norris’s “Walker, Texas Ranger” and that the two Texans are “good friends.”
Sabo aide: Petulant or put upon?
This weekend, Mike Erlandson, longtime chief of staff to Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.), found out that he’ll have a tough road to succeed his boss as the congressman for the 5th District of Minnesota.
That realization prompted, in the words of one local columnist, a “five-star tantrum.” But Erlandson’s camp, including the congressman, says he was the victim of shabby treatment by those who decided his fate.
In a column that referred to Erlandson’s antics as a “hissy fit,” the Star Tribune’s Doug Grow described Saturday’s 5th District Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party nominating convention. He wrote that it was “made clear to all the candidates seeking endorsement that they should state, in the first 15 seconds of their speeches, whether they would abide by the endorsement” as given. That is, if they were not endorsed, would they step aside and support the candidate who was?
Erlandson, who chaired the state party from 1999 to 2005, did not say, at which point the delegates began interrupting his speech with calls of “What about endorsement?”
According to Grow, he got “huffy,” saying, “I look forward to seeing you in September” and walking out.
“Most believe Erlandson’s tantrum was contrived,” Grow wrote.
Not Sabo, who took issue with the behavior of his own base.
“What happened to Mike and all of those who supported him on Saturday was a poor reflection on my party,” said the congressman, who is retiring after 14 terms. “Whom the delegates chose to endorse was their decision, but it was very disappointing to witness how rudely they treated their former state party chair, his family, friends and volunteers. … Mike deserves the same level of respect that was shown the other candidates.”
For those of you scoring at home, the party endorsed Keith Ellison for the September primary.
Call me Sen. Hagelski
Looks like Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is making a pitch for the Polish-American vote as he ponders running for president in 2008.
Hagel, whose state contains only 62,475 of the 8.97 million Americans of Polish descent recorded in the 2000 census, was the featured speaker at a Polish Embassy luncheon Friday to mark the 215th anniversary of the Polish Constitution, the world’s second oldest, behind the American Constitution.
Hagel said he is proud of his Polish heritage and noted that his grandmother emigrated to the United States from Poland with her parents and 13 siblings. “They were very busy in those days,” he quipped. Hagel’s grandmother’s name was Koukelewski; Hagel’s name is German.
To bolster his Polish ties, Hagel brought with him part of “the little Polish cabal in my office,” Banking Committee Staff Director Joe Cwiklinski (“Now, there’s a Polish name,” he said) and Rexon Ryu, counsel to the Foreign Relations Committee, whose name isn’t Polish but his mother is.
Hagel’s Polish ties could be a political asset in New York, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the five vote-rich states with the largest Polish-American population.
Energy and Commerce takes on horse racing
It’s Triple Crown season. Which means it’s: (A) time to watch NBC for two minutes every two weeks; (B) time to drink mint juleps or (C) time for members of Congress once again to play sports commissioners.
The answer is all of the above. On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee was at it again, this time with a hearing on labor, health and insurance issues for professional jockeys.
“We’re taking action that should have been taken a long time ago,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). “A billion-dollar sport can’t seem to insure the people who do the work and risk their necks.”
Barry Bonds it wasn’t, but the hearing wasn’t without intrigue. Committee members and witnesses from the Jockeys Guild discussed the tenure of one Wayne Gertmenian, the former manager of the guild, who is accused of gross financial mismanagement and bilking the organization out of thousands of dollars. The FBI is investigating his role in the guild’s near bankruptcy last year.
“It’s obvious that he was totally ripping off the Guild,” said Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee who presided over the hearing. “I hope he will be charged with something.”
In other sports news, the House also managed Tuesday to pass under suspension a bill by Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) to “award a Congressional gold medal to Byron Nelson in recognition of his significant contributions to the game of golf as a player, a teacher, and a commentator”; and a bill by Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) to congratulate the St. Louis Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter on winning last year’s National League Cy Young Award.
No post offices were named all day.
Cap Cops to take on other police forces tomorrow
Twelve Capitol Police officers are participating tomorrow in the National Police Challenge 50K race at the U.S. Secret Service Training Facility in Laurel, Md.
The race, held in conjunction with National Police Week, raises funds for the families of those who have been slain in the line of duty. Last year’s race took in about $230,000.
The race is run relay-style, with 10 runners completing a 5K. Two alternates will make the trip as well.
Last year, the Capitol Pride team finished third in the Open-Sworn division with an average time of 19:54.
Albert Eisele contributed to this page.