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Ready to Rumble

Gotta love it when Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accidentally come within touching distance and can’t escape, but, because other people are watching, have to pretend to be nice to each other.

One such occasion occurred Tuesday, just outside the House Radio-Television Correspondents’ Gallery studio where lawmakers often hold press conferences.

Hastert and other Republicans were inside the studio denouncing immigrant gang violence while Pelosi and her gang of Democrats were outside, waiting to get inside, to talk about the new National Intelligence Estimate report showing that the Iraq War has actually expanded terrorism rather than reduced it.

Pelosi, joined by Rep. John Murtha (Pa.), the leader of the Democratic drum beat against the Iraq War, and other Democrats were twiddling their thumbs waiting for Republicans to finish their spiel on gangs when the door opened. Hastert walked out and — voila! — suddenly found himself standing very, very close to Pelosi, who was wearing her signature perma-grin.

Struggling for pleasantries, Hastert said, “Fancy meeting you here!”

Pelosi, still smiling, responded in kind.

“We were talking about gang violence,” Hastert said.

“We may have some right here,” Pelosi replied. (Yes, still smiling.)

Everyone had a little chuckle, and Hastert went on his way. But we couldn’t help but wonder: Who would take whom in a fight between the Speaker and the Minority Leader?

“The wrestling coach still has sharp skills,” a GOP leadership aide said, without a trace of partisan bias, of course.

Phony Blogger Fired. A top aide to Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.) was forced to resign Tuesday for using Congressional office computers to pose as a liberal on political blogs, in an apparent attempt to undermine Bass’ Democratic challenger.

Bass asked longtime aide Tad Furtado to resign after HOH revealed Monday that the operators of two liberal blogs in New Hampshire had traced the suspicious poster’s Internet protocol address to the House of Representatives’ computer server.

“Tad Furtado posted to political Web sites from my office without my knowledge or authorization and in violation of my office policy,” Bass said in a statement. He added that he was referring the matter to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct “for their review.”

House ethics rules prohibit employees from using government resources to engage in campaign activity. Furtado, who had worked for Bass since 1998, posted blog comments under the pseudonym “IndyNH” and “IndieNH.” He pretended to be a liberal who didn’t think Bass’ opponent, Paul Hodes, could win. He suggested that “fellow” liberals follow him by investing their time and money elsewhere — “maybe CT or NY for me — they are at least close by.”

Owners of the sites Blue Granite and NH-02 became suspicious and easily traced IndieNH’s IP address to the House, where they figured very few offices, and perhaps only one, would have interest in the New Hampshire 2nd district race.

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