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However, Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the incident could hurt Sweeney in November. “Someone needs to tell John Sweeney that when New Yorkers are talking about ‘pain at the pump,’ they’re not talking about keg fatigue. After being hazed for nearly eight years by Sweeney’s representation, I’m confident that New Yorkers are going to be pledging for change this November,” he said.

Sweeney, though, says he wasn’t drunk and wasn’t even drinking at the frat party. He gives a very different account than the ones written about in the Albany Times Union’s blog and the Union College school newspapers, which suggested Sweeney was hammered when he crashed the Delta Phi party. The newspapers’ Web sites also included photos of Sweeney with students at the bash looking, well, half in the bag.

“You weren’t there, that’s speculation,” Sweeney’s spokeswoman, Melissa Carlson, told HOH. True. And she pointed out that Sweeney “isn’t supposed to be drinking” because he’s on medication trying to recover from a recent three-week-long hospitalization for a condition doctors believe to be vasculitis, an inflammation of blood vessels in the brain.

“He wasn’t drinking,” she said, adding, “What’s wrong with him stopping by and talking to college kids?”

Sweeney attended the wake of an old friend that day, then went to Geppettos, an Italian restaurant across the street from the Union College campus owned by the Congressman’s longtime buddy Paul Lichorat.

Lichorat told HOH that Sweeney ate a stromboli and drank only “a half a glass of wine.” Then the Congressman pointed across the street and asked, “Hey, Pauly, what’s going on over there?”

“I said, ‘a fraternity party.’ So we went over,” Lichorat said.

Lichorat says Sweeney was “absolutely not” inebriated and he “wasn’t slurring his words,” as some news accounts suggested. “I’ve been in this business 25 years, I know what a drunk person looks like,” he said.

While his friends and aides acknowledge that it wasn’t the brightest idea for him to drop by a late-night frat party, they say the Congressman did nothing inappropriate.

Sweeney joked about it on Friday while receiving an award from the College of St. Rose, another school near his district. Carlson said Sweeney told a local reporter, “Had I known that going to a fraternity party was going to get this much attention, I would have done it sooner.”

Where’s the Love? These days Republicans can’t hide their fear when they bump into the man who is out to dethrone them in November.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the feisty (some say vicious) chairman of the DCCC, was exiting the Longworth House Office Building on Thursday when he ran into Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).

“Rahm, what’ve you come up with to screw us with today?” Simpson only half-jokingly asked Emanuel, according to one of HOH’s many spies.

After some manly banter back and forth, which our informant didn’t quite hear as he didn’t want to appear to be eavesdropping too closely, the two lawmakers departed, expressing deep affection for one another, or so it appeared.

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