'She has great legs,' too

A gaggle of pols and other famous-for-D.C. types trekked through the rain to the Mayflower Hotel on Tuesday to catch a first glimpse of the new political documentary by Alexandra Pelosi, “Diary of a Political Tourist.”

“I thought nobody was going to come to this thing,” said Pelosi, because of the nasty weather.

But come they did. In Pelosi’s audience were her dashing, velvet-clad, Dutch beau Michiel Vos; Sen. Bob Graham’s (D-Fla.) triplet granddaughters, who appear in the movie; Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff; and, perhaps for some conservative ballast, pundit John McLaughlin.
patrick g. ryan
As Rep. Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as minority whip last year, her daughter, Alexandra, left, always the filmmaker, documented the event.

Among the pols on hand were Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), former Connecticut Democratic Reps. Sam Gejdenson and Barbara Kennelly and a host of California Democrats, including Reps. Robert Matsui, George Miller, Anna Eshoo and Jane Harman. And of course, mom — who happens to be the House minority leader — couldn’t miss it either.

Alexandra said this was the first time her mother saw the film. Given its occasional irreverence, “I didn’t want her in the editing process,” she said.

The minority leader was impressed, as was the rest of this tough crowd. Lobbyist Tony Podesta, attending with his wife, Heather, said a large group sat in the back of the room to facilitate a quick exit after the film began. “But they all stayed for the whole thing,” he said.

Like her acclaimed 2002 film, “Journeys with George,” which followed President Bush on the campaign trail, “Diary” trails most of the 2004 Democratic hopefuls, as Pelosi tries “to figure out what you have to do” if you want to “kick the leader of the free world out of the White House.”

The film opens at the White House Christmas party, where Bush tells Pelosi, “I had enough of that. I already made you famous once.”

From there it’s onto the tour buses and deep-fried Twinkies of the campaign trail.

Among her many pitfalls, Pelosi told The Hill, she nearly got arrested for trespassing at an appearance by Sen. John Kerry at a hog farm because she tried to film the hogs.

“If you only knew the kind of humiliation you have to go through,” she said, adding that it was interesting how the candidates handled her presence. Some, like Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) (who inexplicably calls her “Alley” throughout) acted like they were old friends, she said, while others behaved as if to say, “Who’s that annoying stalker? I hope she goes away soon.”

Executive producer Sheila Nevins praised Pelosi as a gifted documentarian, noting that she worked 18 months on the project with no staff, then distilled 200 hours of footage down to an hour and 20 minutes. Also, “she has great legs,” Nevins added.

“Diary” premieres on HBO on Monday, Oct. 11, at 8 p.m.


Dorgan-Durbin face-off looming, depending on election result

Neither they nor any of their colleagues are willing to talk about it publicly, but Senate Democrats are bracing for a face-off between Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Dick Durbin of Illinois after the November elections.

Depending on the outcome of Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s tough reelection race in South Dakota, Dorgan and Durbin could end up competing for the job of chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee — which Dorgan currently holds — if Daschle wins, or for minority whip, if he should lose to former GOP Rep. John Thune.

And, if Democrats somehow regain control of the Senate even while Daschle loses, they could be vying for majority whip.

That’s because the present minority whip, Harry Reid of Nevada, has a lock on succeeding Daschle if he loses and is certain to keep his job should Daschle win.

Although both Dorgan and Durbin say they’re confident that Daschle will win, and Durbin insists that he has no plans to challenge Dorgan for either the Policy Committee post or for the whip’s job should it become open, Senate insiders say there’s a better than even chance that the two D’s will clash.

Durbin, 59, who was elected to the Senate in 1996 after seven terms in the House, is being encouraged to take on Dorgan by several colleagues who are unhappy with the latter’s performance as Policy Committee chairman.

Dorgan, 62, who served six terms in the House before winning a Senate seat in 1992, is expected to win reelection to a third term in November, which may give him the momentum to fend off a possible Durbin challenge.


Hundreds of conservatives flock to G’town to view the rejoinder to ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’

Hundreds of conservatives went to the movies Tuesday night for the premier of “Celsius 41.11 — The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die,” the rejoinder to Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Masterminded by David Bossie, the former investigative aide to Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), and directed by Kevin Knoblock, the film is divided into two parts. In the first half, prominent conservatives such as former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), columnist Charles Krauthammer and terrorism expert and Fox News analyst Mansoor Ijaz, dispute five justifications for Bush haters: President Bush stole the election, didn’t do enough to stop Sept. 11, signed the Patriot Act, lied about WMDs in Iraq, and has a worldview that promotes hatred in the Middle East. It includes many unflattering pictures of the Clinton administration.

Clips from Sen. John Kerry’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention dominate the second half. The “flip-flop” theme is prevalent, as clips from his speech are juxtaposed with those of his Senate speeches and Vietnam days.

Against a series of scenes of violence in Iraq, Kerry is made to look weak on foreign policy, and Bush’s pre-emption prevails.

The film was made in six weeks, and no one in the movie saw it before its premiere Tuesday night. Washington lawyer Victoria Toensing, who discusses the Patriot Act in the film, confirmed that her segments were filmed as late as August. She said many of the principals got together at Thompson’s house this weekend, but they “got so busy talking” that they neglected to screen the film.

The film received a standing ovation, complete with hoots and whistles, from the conservative crowd, who left the theater all smiles and with a sense that they had something to combat Moore.

“The country was ready for an answer to ‘Fahrenheit 9/11,’” said Krauthammer, “and it got it.”

Summer Stitz, press secretary for Citizens United, said they were currently in negotiations as to when and where the movie would play.


Memorial resolution?

Escalating their efforts to place in the Capitol Rotunda a tribute to the fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan, Reps. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Jim Turner (D-Texas), joined by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), will introduce legislation today to that end.

The joint resolution, which would designate a temporary memorial in the Rotunda, will be announced in the Senate Radio and TV Gallery today at 11 a.m.

In late August, Emanuel and Turner wrote House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) requesting such a memorial. Hastert has not yet committed to the idea, but has offered a Veterans Day tribute in the Capitol — after the election, say the cynics.

Emanuel has placed a memorial outside his office in the Longworth Building.


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