Casa de McCain on market, but can't woo buyers

Despite its celebrity owners, and the cachet of a cover feature in Architectural Digest last summer, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) house is having trouble attracting prospective buyers.

Despite its celebrity owners, and the cachet of a cover feature in Architectural Digest last summer, Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) house is having trouble attracting prospective buyers.

The stucco-and-tile house, which McCain’s wife, Cindy, grew up in, boasts nine bedrooms, eight bathrooms, eight surveillance cameras, a whirlpool and an outdoor fireplace.

The couple, who are downsizing to a smaller home as their children move out, priced the house at $4.25 million, but it has languished on the market for three months, with only six prospective buyers coming to check it out. The McCains have dropped the asking price by $500,000, to $3.75 million.

McCain’s Realtor would not comment to The Hill, but a source familiar with the situation said this is not uncommon.

“When you get into this price range, many homes sit on the market for a year or more,” the source said. According to the Multiple Listings Service, 200 homes are on the market in the Phoenix area for $1 million or more.

The price drop coincided with an exclusive open house. On Friday, luxury real-estate agents specializing in high-end markets were allowed to view the property. According to The Arizona Republic, which first broke news of the price drop last week, more than 120 agents showed up to look over the 11,000 square feet.

Photos can be seen at centralphx.com by clicking on “North Central Phoenix.”


Can Higgins compete with the ‘Almighty’ Steve Carell?

Come December 2007, Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) will have more competition for his job than just a Republican challenger. His new rival will be none other than funnyman-of-the-moment Steve Carell of “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” fame.

Carell is starring in a sequel to “Bruce Almighty,” the 2003 Jim Carrey vehicle in which Carell plays newscaster Evan Baxter. In the follow-up, Baxter gets elected to Congress from Buffalo — the job that Higgins holds.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to again highlight Buffalo on the big screen,” said Higgins’s communications director, Suzanne Anziska, who clearly is familiar with the Carell oeuvre. “We look forward to watching Steve Carell portray an elected official from Buffalo — so long as he runs his congressional office with better people skills than Michael Scott and more brains than Brick Tamlin,” she said.

Carrey is not a part of the picture, but Morgan Freeman will reprise his role as God.

The film, slated for Christmas 2007 release, has begun pre-production around Charlottesville, Va., according to a story in The Roanoke Times.

The film is just the latest example of a pop-culture fascination with all things Washington that began with “The West Wing” and continues with the spate of D.C.-based chick-lit books on the shelves.

“Thank You for Smoking,” which concerns a tobacco lobbyist, opens in March.



Cornyn ‘lampoons’ Kennedy on SCOTUS nominations

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but when Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) took to the floor last week to defend Samuel Alito, he sounded an awful lot like the Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) of 19 years ago.

“In the America of [Alito’s] opponents,” Cornyn said, “no plaintiff ever loses a case; no entrepreneur ever wins, no matter how frivolous the claim of employment discrimination; police departments never win a case, no matter how desperate the claim of a criminal defendant; government agencies, ... could never win a case, no matter how outlandish the request for government benefits.”

Hmm. Sounds similar to Kennedy’s famous “Robert Bork’s America” tirade, delivered moments after Bork’s nomination in 1987. Kennedy declared that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government.”

Coincidence? Not at all, said Cornyn’s communications director, Don Stewart. “It was a little bit of a lampoon,” he said. “That was the intent.”

When asked who came up with the parody, Stewart pointed right back at his boss. “Senator John Cornyn is responsible for that,” he said. “In the end, he signed off on it and he said it.”

Kennedy’s office did not respond to a request for comment.


Plenty of protein for Santorum

We hope Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-Pa.) family likes meat.

Santorum’s Senate colleagues paid up on two separate, protein-rich football bets Friday at a made-for-media event on the Senate steps.

He took home Bradford County smoked sausage from Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) thanks to Penn State’s triple-overtime, nail-biting win over Florida State — the two senators’ alma maters, respectively — in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.

“I wanted you to enjoy a taste of Tallahassee — 23 pounds of it, a pound for every point we scored against your Nittany Lions,” Martinez said in a press release.

“It was great, classic college football,” he added.

For good measure, Martinez also threw in a prize not included in the wager — a Florida State jersey with Santorum’s name emblazoned on the back, signed by Bobby Bowden.

Pennsylvania football came through for Santorum again during the AFC Championship Game, in which Santorum’s home-state Pittsburgh Steelers bested the Denver Broncos.

Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) ponied up Rocky Mountain rib-eye steaks.

With the Steelers going for their fifth Super Bowl title this Sunday, no word yet from Santorum’s office on whether he’s trying to ride his hot streak against either of Washington state’s senators.


Odd couple

It was a match that wasn’t meant to be.: Naomi Seligman, deputy director of the ethics watchdog group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, and none other than Adam Kidan, former business partner in crime with lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Long before Seligman began railing against Abramoff’s misdealings and Kidan admitted forging a $23 million wire transfer, the two enjoyed a brief relationship in D.C. in the late 1990s, several sources said.

After being introduced by a mutual friend over drinks at Capital Grille, the pair “went out for some dinners” and “dated for a few months,” according to a source with direct knowledge of the relationship. But it was “nothing serious at all,” the source added.

At the time, Kidan owned the Washington Dial-A-Mattress franchise (he enjoyed being referred to as the “Mattress King”) and Seligman was a staffer for Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.).

Seligman, now married, said, “I do not comment on the many people I may or may not have met in Washington during my 11 years here, and my organization, CREW, does not focus on mere gossip. Rather, CREW concentrates on the real problem in government: the unethical and often illegal use of power for the financial gain of a few.”


Babs the younger hits Chinatown

A Hill spy spotted Barbara Bush on a “double date” Saturday night at Zengo, the hip new Latin-Asian eatery in Chinatown, where patrons sip mojitos and grill their own Kobe beef on hot stones.

A restaurant spokeswoman would not confirm the sighting.

“The guy she was with was really cute and ultra-preppie,” our tipster wrote.

So what about Barbara? Was she her usual fetching self? “She was really cute until she lit up — yuck,” the source says. “What will she do when D.C. goes smoke-free?”