In the Know

By Betsy Rothstein

Rep. Lacy Clay gets braces off top teeth 

Lawmaker promptly loses retainer

It’s been 10 long months for Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) but, thank God, the braces finally are coming off. The congressman recently had the braces on his top teeth removed; the bottom ones will be free next month.


Now Clay has something else to contend with — a retainer. Unfortunately, Clay lost his last week: He believes he left it in the House gym.

“So now I’m so worried,” he said. “These retainers are going to be trouble.”

Clay was inspired to get braces by his 12-year-old daughter. She has also had retainer trouble. Hers broke over the holidays when her 6-year-old brother “popped her in the mouth.” 

But all is not lost. If Clay has his way with a House resolution, February will be declared “Orthodontist Month.” Of course, his congressional powers only go so far. He has not located his missing retainer, and if anyone does find it in the gym, ITK advises to please return it to Cannon 434.


Sen. Rockefeller gives Durbin tight squeeze

Asian tourists return the favor


Who knew Sen. Jay RockefellerJohn (Jay) Davison RockefellerBottom Line World Health Day: It's time to fight preventable disease Lobbying World MORE (D-W.Va.) was so affectionate? 

The very tall senator last week strolled past Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders surge triggers Dem angst As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (D-Ill.), who was speaking with a reporter at the Capitol, and wrapped his arms tightly around his much shorter colleague.

Durbin looked around in mock fright, rolled his eyes and said, “Mr. Chairman, it’s always a pleasure to see you! Is there a photographer around?” 

Rockefeller later explained that he and Durbin share a similar sense of humor, saying he often “deliberately comes up and disrupts the continuity of anything he’s doing.” Rockefeller also has a rather high opinion of Durbin: “He’s one of the greatest people who ever came along.”

Rockefeller, as it turns out, is quite a friendly man. Just as he was talking about the Durbin bear hug, a gaggle of Asian tourists approached and acted as though they had just run into the Beatles. “Oh! Senator Rockefeller! Senator Rockefeller!” they shouted, crowding and beaming at him. “Happy New Year!”

Rockefeller warmly shook their hands and went on his way.


SOTU: Behind the scenes

Foxx to Bush: “How about a kiss, Mr. President?”
Lawmakers may say bad things about President Bush, yet many are taken in by his star power: Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of the action — or a kiss.  

Last week, we watched rank-and-file lawmakers exit the House Chamber after the State of the Union. As Bush made his way down the carpet, quite a few were looking for some love.

Freshman Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannEvangelicals shouldn't be defending Trump in tiff over editorial Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE (R-Minn.) tried her best to get kissy-kissy with the president, as did Rep. Virginia FoxxVirginia Ann FoxxOvernight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus House panel advances bipartisan surprise billing legislation despite divisions Ex-HHS chief threatens to vote 'no' on surprise medical billing measure MORE (R-N.C.), who nearly planted a full-mouth smooch on the president. ITK has since learned that Foxx masterminded all the kissing.

While it may have looked like Bachmann started it, Foxx actually did so by asking Bush, “How about a kiss, Mr. President?” Foxx’s spokesman said his boss indeed made the appeal. “It was just a lighthearted request, being polite to the president. No big deal,” that spokesman, Michael Frohlich, said.

Bush obliged, and according to Bachmann’s office, Bachmann was simply next up. “She’s a freshman member of Congress who found herself at the first State of the Union address and she was just very honored to be there,” Bachmann’s spokeswoman, Heidi Frederickson, said. “She was next in line.”

Bush gave some lawmakers more attention than others. Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeWhat the impeachment vote looked like from inside the chamber No experience required: US hiring immigration judges who don't have any immigration law experience Trump administration restricts travel from Nigeria and five other countries MORE (D-Texas), who generally has an aisle seat to get face time with the president, looked as though she was brushed off. She repeatedly tried to talk with Bush; he repeatedly ignored her smiling advances and instead chatted with others.

Bush did talk with presidential hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who told the president he’d be happy to help with his 12-point, end-the-occupation plan for Iraq. Bush responded, “I know we both love America.”


Red fox spotted outside Capitol

Seems there’s a creature in our midst, and it’s a red fox. First spotted outside the Senate side of the Capitol on the night of the State of the Union, Washington Times Bureau Chief Charlie Hurt came face to face with the animal when he sauntered outside. Hurt said he wasn’t afraid of the fox, and noted the animal’s cute short legs. “We both kind of looked at each other,” Hurt said, noting the animal’s “adorable, bushy red tail.”

A Capitol policeman, speaking anonymously, verified that the fox lives beyond the trailers, saying he and his colleagues also have seen him. The cop, when asked if the fox would be fired at if encountered again, said the animal would not be shot unless it attacked.


Senators visit Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonTrump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation MORE


Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) last week visited an ailing Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) in the hospital.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell tees up votes on two abortion bills Senate votes to rein in Trump's power to attack Iran As many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran MORE (R-S.D.), though he once ran against Johnson and lost, has visited him on more than one occasion. Each time, however, he met only with Johnson’s wife, Barbara. “She’s a terrifically strong woman,” Thune said last week. “There’s a lot of pressure.”

Rep. Gutierrez skips State of Union address — as usual

Rep. Luis GutierrezLuis Vicente GutierrezThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic primary fight shifts to South Carolina, Nevada Democrats rally behind incumbents as Lipinski takes liberal fire Dem leader says party can include abortion opponents MORE (D-Ill.) did not attend last week’s State of the Union address. It was not out of protest. He simply prefers to watch the big speech on TV in the privacy of his apartment.

“There’s no clapping,” he said. “There’s no interruptions. I want to listen. I don’t want distractions.”

Gutierrez said no one should be insulted by his absence — he has attended five during his time in Congress, but didn’t even attend his first with former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDemocrats' choice: Unite or go down to defeat Biden says he has to do 'really well' in South Carolina Klobuchar says English should not be US national language, reversing from prior vote MORE in 1993.



Burngate: Round Two

Last week ITK revealed that the former Roll Call gossip columnist Mary Ann Akers burned a bunch of her sources on her way to by sending out a farewell e-mail without blind-copying them.

Akers didn’t reply to ITK by press time, despite an e-mail and a phone call, but she did manage a response after the item appeared the following day:

“You silly,” Akers wrote to ITK. “That was the PUBLIC list, not the super secret list of my REAL sources! But now that you’ve sent me an email, you’ve finally made the list of my” …

ITK inquired why Akers, an acquaintance of no more than thirty seconds,  did not complete her sentence. This was her reply: “Hi, dear. this is my personal email address. The way to reach me on deadline is to either call ... and ask for me, or e-mail me ... now, why are you being so hostile? I’m sure whatever is ailing you can’t be all that bad. chin up, kid.”

Perez Hilton, a celebrity blogger, weighed in on the matter, saying he would never e-mail all his sources in such a way that their names would be revealed. “No, of course not,” Hilton said by phone Monday. “Never! I would never do that in the first place. There is no reason to e-mail all your sources. If I did, of course you’d BCC everyone. It’s pretty bad.”


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