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Heard on the Hill: Armey Wrestles With Ventura

Tea party godfather and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) was supposed to be mapping out the future of the GOP at a speech Monday, but he saved some of his harshest words for an odd target: former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

During a speech at the National Press Club, Armey strangely singled out Ventura, an Independent and a former pro wrestler, whose sole contribution to the national discourse at the moment is in his role as the host of the TV show “Conspiracy Theory.”

He noted that Ventura was the only elected official to come out of the wave of unrest that brought Ross Perot to a third-party presidential candidacy in 1994 and 1996. But Ventura was “hardly a great contribution to the welfare of mankind,” Armey opined. And he continued, citing a country song lyric (“my heart can’t take another you”) that he said summed up his feelings about Ventura.

Later, when it seemed the rant was long over, Armey returned to the subject. “I don’t mean to be too hard on Jesse Ventura, but don’t you think he’s been acting bizarre lately?” he asked the crowd. “Seems strange to me.”

Other things Armey revealed in the speech that he doesn’t like include sociology and English classes at Duke University, which he singled out as lightweight pursuits (he thinks people should be reading heavy economic thinkers like Friedrich von Hayek — not easy stuff like John Maynard Keynes, whom he said any sixth-grader could grasp), and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (whom he described as “more inept than I thought ... but not as mean”).

Armey’s likes, though, are simple: the late President Ronald Reagan, Stetson hats (he proudly showed off his own rare model) and the Internet, which he said would keep activists vigilant and organized.

Baring It Al. There was a naked Al Gore on the Senate floor Monday. But the former vice president and Democratic Senator from Tennessee wasn’t streaking his old workplace — the nude Gore was courtesy of a large poster that Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) brought to the floor to serve as a backdrop for an anti-global-warming speech.

Inhofe used the startling image — a large blowup of a cover illustration for the Weekly Standard magazine that featured Gore in the buff, standing on what looks like a polar tundra, while two polar bears look on and giggle — to illustrate his criticism of Gore’s climate change crusade.

Inhofe, a vocal critic of climate change, said Gore is “drowning in a sea of his global warming illusions” and noted that the former veep is holding a “high-level meeting of global warming alarmists.”

A Democratic staffer who saw the poster sniffed that it was “not Senatorial,” but an Inhofe spokesman says his boss just couldn’t resist. “As soon as he saw it, he knew he wanted to give a speech,” the spokesman says.

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