If gossip was food (and believe us, we think it makes a delicious diet), 2007 would be the equivalent of an endless buffet.
The year offered a smorgasbord of dish, most notably a Senator’s hooker-strewn past and another getting busted in a public bathroom for soliciting gay sex. And while those tabloid-worthy tales alone might have been enough to keep the column full, 2007 also offered plenty of other tasty gossipy tidbits.
With gratitude for all the goofy gaffes, misdirected
e-mails, and feet in mouth that made the year in HOH possible — and a special thanks to all of the tipsters who brought them to our attention — we proudly give you the Year in HOH.
In reviewing all the doings of 2007, we couldn’t help but notice that the Hill denizens we chronicle have just about all of the seven deadly sins covered:
Lust. The two biggest sex scandals of the year, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) sort of admitting that he had been a client of the “D.C. Madam,” and Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) getting arrested in the Minneapolis airport as part of a sting operation cracking down on gay sex, got plenty of HOH ink. We noted that news of Vitter’s dalliance came after the family-values guy had declared himself to be pro-abstinence outside of marriage, as one of the chief backers of an abstinence education bill. And we brought you the story of how his former escort said Vitter dumped her when he learned her real name was Wendy, just like his wife. Wendy Cortez, the former prostitute, also appeared nude in Hustler magazine, and the racy photos were accompanied by an interview in which she revealed some, ahem, personal details about her ex-john. Hooker-ific!
The Craig scandal offered plenty of HOH fodder, from reports of a piece of toilet paper from the bathroom where the Senator was caught being auctioned on eBay, to plenty of Craig-inspired Halloween costumes sported by Hill types, to a recent earmark Craig inserted into a spending bill to fund a dude ranch.
Pride. The proverb dictates that “pride goeth before a fall,” and it certainly wenteth this year on the Hill. Some of the examples HOH unearthed included plenty of grooming “don’ts.” Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) showed up to work with a terribly dark dye job after a new barber convinced him to go for a younger look. The hair-raising effect was so startling that Nelson was left looking for a dye-removing product called “Oops.”
And dentists would be proud, but Miss Manners, well, not so much: None other than actor Jon Voight, father of Angelina Jolie, was spotted waiting for a meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building and engaging in a full-on dental-flossing session. Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), too, couldn’t resist the urge to engage in a public display of dental hygiene and was caught during a committee meeting trying to floss.
And we love a guy who wears his importance on his sleeve, like Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), who HOH reported sports a fleece jacket emblazoned with the phrase “Mr. Chairman” around Washington on the weekends.
The winners of HOH’s “Forever Young” contest deserve a mention here, too. We asked our sharp readers to identify the Members of Congress with the most outdated photos in the Congressional directory. So to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), here’s looking at (a much younger) you.
Wrath. It doesn’t take much to rile up Congress, just ask President Bush. But, this year at least two lawmakers struck back. First Rep. Christopher Shays lost his temper in July, grabbing a Capitol Police officer’s name tag after an officer declined entry to Shays’ constituents. The incident left the Connecticut Republican with his tail between his legs, apologizing to the officer and the Capitol Police department.
But Rep. Bob Filner takes the cake for anger-management issues in 2007. The California Democrat got physical at Dulles International Airport in August after an airline lost his luggage. Filner was charged with assault and battery after he allegedly pushed an airline worker and refused to leave an employees-only area. Filner copped to a $100 fine and pleaded to the lesser offense of trespassing.
Envy. Seeing green can cause one to go a little crazy every now and again. The spat between Reps. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) after Gohmert stole a sign from outside Shuler’s office in June was no different. Gohmert, who was so enamored with Shuler’s Blue Dog Democrat sign displaying the daily federal deficit, he made off with it to form his own group, the “Blue Hound Dog Coalition.” Gohmert’s five-finger discount didn’t sit well with the former professional football player who took to the House floor calling the Texas Republican “gutless,” “chickens---t” and a “thief”.
Not all cases of the green-eyed monster turn out so dramatically. After all, copying is the most sincere form of flattery. At least that is the message from Sen. Sherrod Brown, after the Ohio Democrat took a cue in October from an unlikely fashion icon, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). Whitehouse’s trademark black Pumas, worn in place of dressier loafers or oxfords, so inspired Brown that he asked Whitehouse where he got his kicks, then promptly bought a copycat pair. While both Whitehouse and Brown say their sneaks are as much about form as they are about function, HOH has noticed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) hasn’t given up her trademark stilettos.
Gluttony. Members of Congress have long been known for their penchant for adding pork to spending bills. But HOH’s biggest instance of gluttony has to be Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Ohio) breaking a strict diet in May, when he was supposed to eat on a weekly budget of $21, the amount the average food stamp recipient gets in his state. Alas, Ryan was busted by an HOH tipster who spotted the Congressman drinking a hot cup of pricey joe at Ebenezer’s Coffee House in Ryan’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The Ohio Democrat didn’t even try to hide his identity, wearing one of his own campaign T-shirts. Ryan’s excuse for the major slip-up: Airport security confiscated his stash of peanut butter and jelly in his carry-on bag because they violated rules about what liquids can be carried on flights.
Sloth. Apathy can get you in trouble, too. Take Kim Stevens, the finance director for the House Administration Committee and one of the poohbahs of the new House parking regime, who personally racked up more than a dozen parking violations for leaving her car in a House-side garage with an expired D.C. registration. Do as I say ...
Greed. HOH is going to ’fess up and plead guilty to this particular cardinal sin. We just can’t get enough of your tips, sightings and fun stories, and we’re always on the lookout for more, more, more. So to all our tipsters for helping make 2007 such a fun one, we say a very heartfelt thanks. And here’s to an even more HOH-able 2008.
Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., walks on Broadway after a Future Forum with young entrepreneurs in the Flatiron District of New York City, April 16, 2015. Reps. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Grace Meng, D-N.Y., also attended.