By Albert Eisele - 03/30/05 12:00 AM EST
When two senators whose names are pronounced the same way come to the Middle East on the same week, it can get a little confusing.
At least it was for an unidentified woman who rushed up to Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), right, as he arrived at the airport in Doha, Qatar, on Friday and asked if he was the U.S. senator who was visiting Iraq this week.
“I’m the senator,” he said. “Senator Reed.”
“Well, I always wanted to meet you but you sure don’t look like your picture,” she said.
Reed, who has been through this before, replied, “I think you’re looking for Senator Harry Reid of Nevada [at left]. I’m the other one. I’m from Rhode Island.”
The Nevada senator and minority leader had led a seven-member codel to Baghdad on Tuesday but was long gone before his junior colleague arrived.
Is PX wear dressing up or down?
It happens to everyone, even to Senate staffers traveling with their boss.
But when Elizabeth King lost her luggage en route to Iraq with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) last week, and it still hadn’t caught up with her four days later, she knew what to do: Pay a visit to the huge PX at Camp Liberty in Baghdad.
Unfortunately for King, who is Reed’s legislative assistant for military and foreign affairs, the PX carries very little civilian women’s clothing, and what there is — such as midriff-baring T-shirts and lacy underwear — was impractical for business travel.
So she did the next best thing. She bought a pair of fatigues and wore them while accompanying Reed on a round of meetings in several Iraq cities and military bases.
“It was a comedy of errors,” said King, whose bags finally caught up with her in Kuwait, just in time for her to be properly attired for her return to the United States.
Lemieux advised Specter on Hodgkin’s disease
When Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease last month, one of his constituents rushed to contact him to discuss his own experience with fighting the cancer.
This wasn’t just any constituent, but rather someone with perhaps more national name recognition than the senator himself: hockey great Mario Lemieux.
The Canadian-born Lemieux, who now owns the Pittsburgh Penguins, was just 27 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s in 1992. The disease was detected at an early stage, and after being treated with radiation he has been cancer-free ever since.
The Penguins’ all-time leading scorer, with 682 goals, has since made a habit of speaking to cancer patients to offer encouragement and advice.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Lemieux had never met Specter in person but tried to contact him several times after the senator’s diagnosis.
A spokesman for Specter last week told The Hill that Lemieux was indeed successful and that the two did speak by phone. The substance of their conversation was not revealed, but Lemieux told the Post-Gazette beforehand, “I’ve been through it, so I just want to wish him good luck and talk to him about it. Maybe he has questions about the treatments or how I felt and all that stuff.”
Members set to play superheroes
Thirteen members of Congress will get a chance to do something they’re very good at — pretending to save the world — on stage next month.
For the Arena Stage’s annual benefit, local playwright and director Nick Olcott has penned a script called “Capital Crusaders: It’s a Bird!” It’s a Plane! It’s Congress! The skit concerns a villainous plot to take over the world. With Spiderman, Batman, et al, out of commission, mankind turns to the Guardians of Perseverance (the GOPs) and the Defenders of Eternal Might and Order (the DEMOs) to win the day.
The cast includes Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska); Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), John Spratt (D-S.C.), John Tanner (D-Tenn.) and Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.); and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). They’ll be joined by D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams (D), City Council members and media types.
The play will be performed April 11 at 8:30 p.m. in the Kreeger Theater. Tickets are $200-$350.
Moran: Nothing racier than Bob Dole, please
What if “a tender moment turns into the right moment,” but you’re not “ready”? What to do then?
Rep. Jim Moran doesn’t want people finding out — at least not until after 10 p.m. The Northern Virginia Democrat introduced a bill earlier this month that would ban advertisements for erectile-dysfunction (ED) drugs such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra until the late-night hours.
The bill was appropriately introduced on the first day of the NCAA basketball tournament, the broadcasts of which have been blanketed with ED ads. “You can hardly watch primetime television or a major sporting event with your family without ads warning of the danger of a ‘four-hour experience’ airing every 10 minutes,” Moran said.
The eighth-term member is especially concerned that, because Medicare will begin paying for ED treatments under the new prescription-drug benefit next year, the “taxpayer will be helping to subsidize” the industry’s $400 million in annual ED ad spending.
For Moran, the answer may be a return to former Senate Republican Leader Bob Dole (Kan.) as ED pitchman. Dole, fresh off his unsuccessful 1996 presidential race, became the first spokesman for the first ED drug, Pfizer’s Viagra.
“When Bob Dole was doing the ads, it didn’t really bother me, but now there’ s just too much sexual innuendo,” Moran told the Associated Press.
So far the bill has attracted only two co-sponsors: Reps. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and John Duncan (R-Tenn.).
The call of the Wolf: A big star in IraqThere were two four-star generals there as well as a half-dozen others with one, two and three stars, but the real star at the Easter sunrise service at Camp Liberty, the Baghdad headquarters of the U.S. coalition force, was CNN correspondent and Sunday talk-show host Wolf Blitzer.
In fact, the bearded Blitzer was mobbed almost everywhere he went during a whirlwind visit to Iraq last week as officers and enlisted men — and especially women — asked for his autograph and thanked him for coming to the combat zone, where he conducted interviews with the top American generals for CNN’s Sunday program.
Blitzer flew to Kuwait City on Sunday afternoon to do the broadcast. Many Kuwaitis also remembered him for the 20 days he spent there during the earlier Gulf War — a stint that vaulted him to media superstardom.