Heard on the Hill: Bar Brawl

While HOH is sure plenty of Capitol Hill spokesmen have wanted to punch loudmouth reporters every once in a while, we wouldn’t recommend any of them actually slug somebody in real life.

[IMGCAP(1)]But that’s just what happened when Marc Goldberg, communications director for freshman Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.), visited a local sports bar this summer.

According to a report filed in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Metropolitan Police Department officers were called to Dupont Circle’s Public Bar in the early morning hours on Aug. 1 after staff reported an apparent assault.

During their investigation, the officers discovered that Goldberg had cut in line for the bathroom, prompting one of the guys still holding it to complain. “As [Goldberg] left the restroom, [the man] stated to [Goldberg], ‘That’s not right, you cut in front of everybody who is waiting,’— the document reads.

Goldberg’s response? He “punched [the man] in the mouth with a closed right fist causing a deep laceration to [the man’s] upper lip.—

Ouch! Talk about a potty mouth.

The man in the report, whom HOH is declining to name, identified Goldberg as the person who punched him. Three witnesses “also observed [Goldberg] punch [the man] in the mouth after he got out of the bathroom,— according to the report.

The officers subsequently arrested Goldberg for simple assault, according to the document. The man at the other end of Goldberg’s fist declined immediate medical treatment but told officers that he planned on going to the hospital for treatment.

Goldberg was found guilty on one count of simple assault on Oct. 16 following a non-jury trial. He was fined $700 and given one-year probation.

In a statement to HOH, Goldberg said: “I’m extremely sorry for my actions and I am working to make this right.—

Goldberg’s place as Kosmas’ mouthpiece appears secure.

“We are aware of the incident and Marc is fully complying with the terms of his punishment,— Chief of Staff Leslie Pollner said. “However, it has not affected and will not affect the operation of our office.—

We’re guessing Goldberg won’t be cutting in line for the bathroom again.

Déjà Vu on BTU? The phrase “getting BTU’ed— is political-geek code for casting a tough vote that ultimately gets you kicked out of Congress. Its origins date way back to 1993, when Democrats voted for the Clinton White House’s energy tax plan only to have it die in the Senate — after which Republicans campaigned on the issue and used it to oust some BTU-tax supporters from Congress and retake the chamber in 1994.

With that linguistic/history lesson in mind, some Republicans are snickering about a provision included this week in the manager’s amendment for the House Democrats’ health care bill that uses that dreaded, politically loaded term: BTU.

This time around, the BTU measure has to do with biofuel tax credits and is totally unrelated to the 1993 bill, which sought to tax the heat content of fuels. But the cackling GOPers say the substance isn’t what’s really important; it’s the mere fact that the phrase is being used at all that makes it so funny.

Of course, the Republicans are hoping the health care bill turns into another campaign issue, a la 1994.

“Just after being defeated in Virginia and New Jersey, the House Democratic leadership is trying to BTU themselves again within their health care reform bill ... literally,— GOP consultant Ron Bonjean said.

Democrats, unsurprisingly, didn’t share the joke. “The only similarity between today and ‘93 is [that] a Democratic president is cleaning up the economic mess left by a Bush presidency,— said Doug Thornell, spokesman for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.).

As of late Wednesday, it looked like the BTU provision might be stripped from the manager’s amendment. In that case, Republicans would have to get their laughs elsewhere.

Fresh Ingredients. Casting producers for the beloved foodie reality competition “Top Chef— made a stop at downtown’s Occidental Grill and Seafood on Wednesday, holding first-round interviews to find potential contestants for an upcoming season and a new spin-off, “Top Chef: Just Desserts.—

The grill wasn’t fired up, however — the “Top Chef— folks considered the event more of a “meet and greet— than an at-the-stove showdown, casting producer Donna Lee told HOH. “We tell them to leave their knives at home,— she said.

Several D.C.-based chefs have filled the “Top Chef— contestant pool over the years, including season four’s Spike Mendelsohn, who now owns the burger joint Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill. Season five finalist Carla Hall runs a local catering company, while Michael Isabella, the head chef at Chinatown’s Zaytinya, turned heads for uttering some pretty darn sexist statements during the current season. (He got booted from the kitchen last week.)

Lee told HOH that producers think D.C. has yielded so many contestants because of its diverse population — and thus, diverse restaurant scene. “You have to be able to be knowledgeable about every cuisine in the world,— Lee said.

Overheard on the Hill. “Think it’s the health care bill?—

— A GOP aide, quipping to HOH about a “suspicious package— found in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office Wednesday. Capitol Police shut down the area briefly before clearing it, and Roll Call later learned the alert was triggered by a letter that former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop wrote to Reid.

Emily Yehle contributed to this report.

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