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Roll Call

Are We That Bad?

Looks like Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt may have lost that loving feeling for the Fourth Estate. At a young Republicans event Tuesday at the posh Waldorf Astoria that was closed to the media, Holt warned the GOP youngsters that dealing with reporters on a daily, constant basis the way he does can be a “horrifying, gritty experience.”

“That’s right,” he added, “I deal with the scum of the earth.”

Holt explained later to HOH that his speech to young Republican would-be operatives also focused on the “necessity of the media.”

“I have a deep respect for the people I work with and I think they understand there’s a natural tension,” he said.

HOH appreciates the clarification.

Franken Causes (Another) Stir. A disturbing report emerged this week from bloggers’ corner inside the media filing center. Conservative blogger John Hinderaker of powerlineblog.com, reported that Al Franken, comedian/hot-headed host of a show on Air America radio, got into a shoving match with conservative talking head Laura Ingraham’s producer.

“The two men argued about whether Franken had agreed to go on Laura’s show and then reneged. The producer started to walk away, but Franken chased him, yelling insults, and the altercation followed,” Hinderaker posted on his Web log.

Pictures were snapped and the Republican National Convention quickly forwarded the photos to credentialed conservative bloggers, who wasted no time sending the pictures out into the blogosphere, where Franken was lampooned as a raving lunatic.

Liberal Brian Reich, who blogs on campaignwebreview.com, confirmed that Franken got into a “yelling match” with Ingraham’s producer. “I don’t know if you’re aware,” Reich said, “but Franken has quite a temper.” (Oh, yes. HOH is all too aware.)

Reich, the lone liberal blogger at the GOP convention, said that later, after Franken’s tussle with Ingraham’s producer, Franken stopped by bloggers’ corner, where he was accosted by a gang of conservative web heads.

“They were saying things like he was stupid and wrong, that he was just there to cause trouble” and weren’t letting a flustered Franken get a word in edgewise, Reich said. Finally, he said, Franken just threw up his hands and said, “Forget about it.”

Feeling bad for Franken, Reich walked the 20 feet from bloggers’ corner to the Air America work site and offered the actor turned liberal radio host an opportunity to “defend himself.” Reich says Franken said he “absolutely would.”

At press time, Franken had not returned calls from HOH seeking comment.

Reich says he expects Franken will forward his defense to some of the conservative blogs sometime today.

Another Cheney Impersonator. Guess who’s the latest victim of Cheney Potty Mouth Syndrome? Hard as it may be to believe, it’s none other than the man formerly known as Mr. Family Values, one-time presidential candidate Gary Bauer.

A trusted HOH contributor saw Bauer walking down 33rd Street, outside Madison Square Garden, passing through a throng of rowdy protesters. The cops pushed the protesters back as Bauer passed by. But one particularly unruly agitator managed to get right in Bauer’s face, yelling at the conservative Christian activist, and calling him “a fascist.”

Well, that just did it. Bauer, without skipping a beat, popped off the now commonly procured and deployed F Bomb.

“F--- you,” Bauer said as he kept walking.

A spokeswoman for Bauer, head of American Values, said that Bauer would not comment on what he said to the protester. What he would comment on, she said, was that a “bunch of people were shouting in his face, ‘F you.’” She said it was “just terrible.’’ Police had to come escort Bauer and his staffer away, she said. “They were concerned for his safety.”

From our end of things, sounds like Bauer can stick up for himself.

Frist in His Class. On the flip side of potty mouth, a heckler at Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s press conference Wednesday afternoon invoked Cheney-esque salutes to the Tennessean as he was talking to reporters about World of Hope, the Frist charity that has raised $3.5 million to fight HIV/AIDS.

In the beautiful promenade of the Rockefeller Plaza, Frist didn’t even flinch as a lone heckler on 49th Street started screaming, “Mr. Frist, we don’t want your war.”

“F--- off and go home,” the man yelled. “Quit killing babies, mother-f---ers.”

Again, Frist didn’t miss a beat, just kept talking. As HOH and Frist’s aides commiserated after the man left, all were in agreement: If you’re going to tell the Majority Leader to Cheney off, at least get the salutation right. It’s Dr. Frist.

Meanwhile, Frist was gearing up for the big show in the plaza Wednesday night, with Brooks and Dunn headlining and a special guest appearance by Bono. Top corporate donors to the charity fundraiser include Target, FedEx, Bell South, Ford and PepsiCo.

But don’t think the good doctor was out late partying. He again threw down the gauntlet to reporters and encouraged them to join him and his able-bodied staffers, including Communications Director Bob Stevenson, for the 6:15 a.m. four-mile run through Central Park on Thursday morning.

The Senator noted that Stevenson, spotted out late Tuesday at the New York Yacht Club, did, indeed, make the 6:15 a.m. run Wednesday — yet not a single reporter showed up.

“Y’all are just here living it up,” he said, implying a real New York experience would be a four-mile run around the park’s reservoir.

Any takers?

Hammer’s Thugs. Lou DuBose, who co-wrote “Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush’s America” with Texas liberal funny woman Molly Ivins, is coming out with a new book: “The Hammer,” which, we can only assume, is a less-than-flattering biography of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas.)

In the galleys of the book, obtained from a reliable source, DuBose paints a hilarious picture of pressmen Stuart Roy and Jonathan Grella. The pair comes off as a couple of hardened thugs more adept at whacking skeptical reporters and throwing them to the fish than in spinning them silly until they write nice things about their boss.

Here are a few excerpts:

“DeLay press flack Stuart Roy is almost non-descript. An elegant, trim, middle-aged white guy with close-cropped hair and an easy demeanor, he disappears into rooms dominated by his boss. But Roy has those rare qualities that distinguish the good from the great. He’s quiet, steady, certain, thorough and slow to anger. But most importantly, he’s the kind of guy who can stand in front of you and piss on your shoes while telling you with a straight face that it’s raining.”

“Tom DeLay runs his own show. Grella helps. A huge muscle of a man with a shaved head and a permanent scowl, Jon Grella stands at the east end of a long dining table. Without the coat and tie he’d look like a bouncer in a biker bar. When it’s time to get his boss to the House floor, or when reporters bore in with questions that are off the agenda, he signals that the conference is over. Although Grella plays the part of the enforcer, standing, scowling, arms folded across his chest, DeLay can take care of himself.”

For those who know Grella, it’s true. His head is shaved. But he looks more like a Nantucket prepster out of a Brooks Brothers catalogue than a biker bar bouncer.

Asked for his reaction to the upcoming book’s description of him, Grella almost swelled with pride. “Like my dad always said, “I’d rather be slapped by a wise man than kissed by a fool.”

Paul Kane and Mark Preston contributed to this report.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.

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