Rep. Peterson and mates get their ya-yas out

The congressional band fronted by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) hit the big time Sunday as it shared the bill at the 20th annual Farm Aid benefit concert with some legends and current stars of American music.

The congressional band fronted by Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) hit the big time Sunday as it shared the bill at the 20th annual Farm Aid benefit concert with some legends and current stars of American music.

The Second Amendments — Peterson on lead vocals, along with Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) on lead guitar, Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.) on bass, Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) on keyboards and Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) on the drum kit — played to a crowd of about 6,000 at the Tweeter Center in Tinley Park, Ill., just south of Chicago.

Speaking to The Hill from the floor of the Chicago Board of Exchange yesterday, Peterson said the band played the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There,” Conway Twitty’s “It’s Only Make Believe” and Mickey Gilley’s “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time” — the last being a bit of a “politically incorrect” twist.

They even got some cred on the official Farm Aid T-shirt, albeit as the last group listed, Peterson said.

“They were surprised that we could actually play,” he said of the enthusiastic crowd, which would later swell to roughly 28,000 for the likes of Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, Wilco, John Mayer, Buddy Guy and Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson.

“We got a chance to see Willie and hang out” backstage with the talent, Peterson added before participating in a press conference with farm groups.

This year’s event focused on supporting family farms and organic producers, as well as relief for Hurricane Katrina victims. It grossed $1.3 million in ticket sales.

Peterson, 61, is ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee as well as a dues-paying union musician.

This is the second incarnation of a band Peterson formed back in 1995 — the Amendments. Comprising Peterson and Reps. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.), Martin Hoke (R-Ohio) and Scott Klug (R-Wis.), it played during the 104th Congress but retirements and defeats brought its run to an end in 1996.

Peterson formed the Second Amendments this year, debuting at Cantina Marina over the summer.

By the time the band members got to Farm Aid, big crowds were nothing new to them: They played before 40,000 at the WE Fest country-music festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn., last month.


Rep. Kline’s son shipping off to Iraq

Maj. J. Daniel Kline, son of Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), has left for Iraq with a battalion from the 101st Airborne Division.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Maj. Kline, who lives in Tennessee, will be stationed north of Baghdad as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot.

You can “reassure yourself of the odds that are overwhelmingly in favor of your son or daughter coming back safe and healthy,” Rep. Kline, himself a retired Marine Corps colonel, told the paper. “But it doesn’t mean you don’t worry.”

Kline joins about a half-dozen other members whose children have been deployed to Iraq, including Sens. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) and Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Todd Akin (R-Mo.) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.).


Emanuel in ‘dunking booth’ tonight

A bevy of heavy hitters will be roasting Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) at Union Station tonight to support the cause of epilepsy research.

Doing their best to live up to the standard set by Dean Martin and the Friars Club will be Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Paul Begala, who know Emanuel from their days together in the Clinton White House; Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Commerce Secretary William Daley (D) to represent the Chicago connection; Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.); Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.); and former New York Times columnist William Safire.

“Emanuel has been instrumental in helping further the cause of federal funding” for epilepsy research, said Susan Green, a spokeswoman for the $250-per-plate dinner.

She said the disease has been “historically underfunded” but is increasingly common among injured soldiers returning from Iraq.

As for the guest of honor, he’s keeping his sense of humor about the whole thing.

“I look forward to sitting in the dunking booth on behalf of a great cause,” he said.


Independent film ‘Steel Valley’ based on Rep. Tim Ryan’s run

Among the nine short films screened Friday in the first night of the DC Shorts Film Festival was “Steel Valley,” a fictional account of an Ohio state Senate race inspired by the real-life campaign of Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, who ran for the Ohio Senate in 2000.

In “Steel Valley,” Ryan’s fictional counterpart, John Brennan, is a law student from eastern Ohio who overcomes ridicule and self-doubt over his status as a young political neophyte to win the three-way race. A congressman, played by former “Married With Children” star Ed O’Neill, vows to support Brennan, if only behind the scenes.

Ryan joined the director, Eric Murphy, and four other filmmakers in front of the audience Friday at the E Street Cinema in Washington to discuss their films.

“I’m very shy,” Ryan said when handed the microphone to introduce himself. He said the message of the film is “you can do crazy things in your life if you’re just willing to not give a shit about it.”

Murphy said he was inspired to make the movie by his work on Ryan’s state Senate campaign. Murphy made the film in part as a student project toward a degree from Loyola Marymount University.

In a climactic scene, O’Neill’s Congressman Cardone is sitting in a car with Brennan, played by Dean Cates, when he opens the glove compartment, revealing a package of cash and a handgun. The congressman offers the money to Brennan as “walking-around money,” to help in his cash-strapped campaign, but Brennan refuses and walks away.

That scene was a fictional device, Murphy said, to demonstrate Brennan’s break from Cardone. “It never happened,” Murphy said, as Ryan laughed and buried his head on Murphy’s shoulder.

O’Neill is a native of Youngstown, Ohio, and his character, Murphy said, is “loosely, loosely, loosely based” on former Rep. James Traficant, the maverick Democrat who represented Youngstown in Congress before being convicted on charges of bribery, corruption and tax evasion in 2002.

The House expelled Traficant shortly after his conviction, but while in jail he campaigned as an independent to return to Congress. Ryan won the Democratic nomination for the 17th District that year and beat Traficant for the seat.

Murphy said he would like to turn his short film into a full-length movie, encompassing the story of Ryan’s election to Congress at age 29. The director said he wants to continue making movies in the Mahoning Valley of Ohio.

The film festival, a project of the DC Film Salon, showed more than 60 short movies in six screenings over the weekend.