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That giant sucking sound heard around town Friday was the combined gasp of just about every member of the Capitol Hill press corps and plenty of House staffers upon hearing that wise-cracking Fox News producer Jim Mills was joining the nascent presidential campaign of former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.).
Mills frequently used humor to entertain aides, Members and fellow reporters — and occasionally, to cut through the absurdity of official Washington, D.C. Though he sometimes crossed swords with the folks he covered, just about everyone, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to Mills’ barber, have their favorite Mills moments.
A few greatest hits:
• Mills forever will be memorialized in the oft-played B-roll footage of embattled then-Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) outside the Capitol. He’s the guy (in typical Mills mode) chasing Condit.
• Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), irritated by Mills’ questions, once called him a “smartass.”
• Once, during a supposedly closed session of the House, Mills realized the Fox news feed from the floor was still live, and he listened in (settle down, folks, it wasn’t classified, just dishy).
• He’s a stalker, but apparently a welcome one. “The Speaker told me that her trips to the floor just won’t be the same without Mills stalking her in Stat Hall,” says Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly, referring to Mills’ favorite hangout in Statuary Hall.
Mills himself shared fond memories of his times on the Hill, from coming aboard as the first “embedded” C-SPAN producer on the Hill in the early 1990s, a position he says he had to beg Brian Lamb to give him. “He gave me the job just to shut me up and get me out of the building,” Mills recalls.
He joined Fox in 1996, when his duties included more than just keeping tabs on lawmakers. Mills remembers having to scrape ice himself from the satellite dish on the Hill, so people in the Capitol could get the signal, and he would clandestinely turn Hill television sets to FNC.
And as pugnacious a questioner as he was as a reporter, we’re looking forward to seeing Mills deal with scribes’ nosy queries once he’s Thompson’s flack.
Karma’s a ... well, it’s something.
Colbert in the House. Fake newsguy Stephen Colbert was making the rounds in Washington on Friday, collecting signatures in the Capitol and at the White House. Not for a petition or a letter, but for the cast encasing his recently broken wrist.
Colbert, the host of the Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report,” was spotted hanging out in Statuary Hall on Friday morning, asking Members to sign a large cast he was sporting around his left wrist.
Pelosi obliged and signed the cast, a spokesman reveals, but cheekily called the comedian a “bone-coddling crybaby.” Ouch! Turns out, the gentlewoman from California was simply repeating a line Colbert used to describe cast-wearers on his show the night before.