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Code Orange

Jokes were flying, though quietly, Tuesday on the south lawn of the White House, where tons of Texans showed up in orange hats, jackets, scarves — orange anything — not to ward off Vice President Cheney but to honor their 2005 national college football champion University of Texas Longhorns.

Though no one wore flak jackets, a big bipartisan Washington, D.C., contingent of UT alumni went to the event, where Bush heaped praise on the

Longhorns and their coach, Mack Brown, for clinching the championship with a 41-38 Rose Bowl victory last month. (Clearly, the president harbors no grudge against the University of Texas, where he was denied admission to law school before going north to Harvard business school.)

Political grudges were suspended during the ceremony, too. “We may all work in Washington but we’re still Texans, and football trumps politics any day,” said Matt Miller, normally the spokesman for Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), but on Tuesday showing his Longhorn pride by decking himself out in an orange tie and a suit with faint orange stripes.

But the die-hard Longhorn did not suspend his sense of humor about the Cheney hunting incident. Miller said lots of attendees were joking that they wore orange just so they could be darn sure Cheney saw them. “Even President Bush was wearing an orange tie, so he must be worried,” Miller joked.

Political Players. Cheney jokes were hard to avoid even at the Shakespeare Theatre’s annual Congressional Night on Monday. Frank Fahrenkopf, head honcho of the American Gaming Association and playing the role of a Mechanical in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” was asked if he was a “glutton for punishment.”

“You have no idea,” Fahrenkopf replied, riffing, “But at least I’m not Vice President Cheney, the first vice president to shoot someone since Aaron Burr.” So what, he won’t make the late-night circuit. Let’s cut him some slack. He’s only an amateur after all, shooting from the hip.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) also performed, spoofing his own 1989 speech on the House floor against the B-2 stealth bomber. Doing a riff on “Hamlet,” Markey’s speech began, “B-2 or not B-2, that is the question.” And Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) got lots of laughs with a non-Shakespearean golf joke about a guy stranded on a deserted island who, when finally graced with the presence of a beautiful woman in a wet suit, thinks only of golf when the woman asks if he wants to “play around.”

Coulda Been a Contender. International heavyweight champ Oleg Maskaev sure has a peculiar way of training. The Uzbekistan-born boxer, not surprisingly, made the featured “shot of the day” on the boxing Web site last week. What was surprising about the picture, however, was the man in the ring fighting with Maskaev: House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.).

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