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Heard on the Hill: Wait Just a New York Minute

It would seem that congratulating the New York Yankees on their World Series win would be a fairly straightforward thing. But faster than you could say “Brooklyn Bridge,” things got a bit complicated.

The Mets-Yankees divide is roiling the New York delegation. Rep. Eliot Engel (D) appeared on the House floor on Friday sporting a Yankees hat to congratulate the winning team. But that image set some Yanks fans a-grousing, since Engel’s a die-hard Mets guy.

“Don’t worry, he hasn’t switched allegiances. We’re just happy New Yorkers,” says Engel spokesman Jeremy Tomasulo, who noted that the Yankees cap was only on his boss’s head oh-so-briefly.

But some Mets fans weren’t buying into the Empire State rendition of “Kumbaya,” politics be damned: Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) was notably absent from the list of sponsors of the resolution formally congratulating the Bronx Bombers. One might think Weiner, who is thought to have aspirations of being the Big Apple’s mayor, would want to curry favor with the big chunk of its residents who root for the Pinstripes.

It seems, though, that Weiner’s loyalty to the Mets runs even deeper than his political ambitions — even though he acknowledges that his team isn’t in the same league as the Yanks. “I only follow double-A baseball,” Weiner tells us. “I’m a Mets fan.”

One guy who had no conflicted feelings, though, was the resolution’s sponsor, Rep. José Serrano (D), who tells HOH that he’s such a baseball (and Yanks, natch) fan, that he passes out baseball cards instead of business cards.

An over-the-moon Serrano had some crackerjack analysis of the team for HOH: He says he hopes the Yankees hang onto Hideki Matsui, despite rumors that they will trade the Series MVP. “I like him, not just for what he did in the series, but for what he does all year long,” he says. And as for Alex Rodriguez’s penchant for dating celebs? “It certainly hasn’t hurt him,” Serrano adds.

It’s Whose Party? It was a business-as-usual reception for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) marking a year since his election, until a surprise party-crasher turned the gathering into a bizarro scene.

The party last Wednesday in honor of Wicker’s leadership political action committee, hosted by FedEx Corp. at their offices near the Senate office buildings, was wrapping up and Republicans — including Wicker’s staffers and a few current and former Senators — were still mixing and mingling. A tall man walking two dogs on leashes sauntered in, according to a guest who witnessed the strange happenings.

Wicker walked over to introduce himself to the new guest, and the interloper identified himself as Rep. John Hall. In an odd turnabout, the New York Democrat then thanked Wicker for coming to the event. A gracious but slightly mystified Wicker replied, “Of course.”

Hall proceeded to work the room, thanking the guests for being there. And it suddenly became clear, our spy says, that Hall thought he was at his own event. Only no one wanted to break the bad news to Hall, since by the time people realized what was going on, the Congressman had slipped into host mode, and no one wanted to embarrass him.

As the gossip spread around the room, meanwhile, Hall’s dogs, too, had made themselves at home. They were “sniffing everything, trying to get food,” the tipster says. And most embarrassingly, the pooches even planted their noses in a few distinguished attendees’ crotches (er, sorry, Sen. Lott).

Hall’s spokeswoman, Meaghan Smith, explained that her boss didn’t mean to hijack Wicker’s party. “He was going to a different reception. ... He got the address wrong,” she explained.

But she joked that he was on a reconnaissance mission. “He wanted to see what the food is like on the other side of the aisle,” she said.

A Wicker spokesman didn’t comment on the events.

Still, the strange happenings provided some comic relief. “It definitely wasn’t your typical reception,” said one attendee.

Is That Code for Something? HOH isn’t exactly sure what to make of the exchange between Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and a Justice Department official at a hearing on Thursday, but we’re sure there’s a joke in there somewhere.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee was hearing testimony from Tom Perez, assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, about legislation that would bar employers from discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation.

Franken noted that being gay just doesn’t seem to be that big a deal anymore. “I’d say my kids’ generation — I have kids in their 20s — they think whether someone is gay or not is about as interesting as being left-handed,” he said.

To which Perez replied, “I’m ambidextrous.” The crowd cackled and Franken looked bemused at the cryptic remark. “I’m not gonna touch that,” he deadpanned.

Broadcast News. Most people think being a Senator is a pretty sweet gig. Former Sen. Gordon Smith, though, thinks his new job is better in one key respect.

“My wife smiles a lot more,” says the Oregon Republican, who just started as the new head of the National Association of Broadcasters and likes the relatively more predictable hours of association life.

Smith was the guest of honor at a reception Thursday night hosted by another former Member of Congress, Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), and attended by a roomful of top lobbyists and other VIPs.

Glickman, who joked that he knew Smith back when the frozen-food baron “was selling peas and lentils” welcomed Smith to the “fraternity” with a stack of DVDs of movies he said would help him in his new job.

The titles included “The Damned Don’t Cry,” “The Drunken Master,” “Hero,” “Observe and Report” (according to Glickman, that’s what Smith will have to do for his board), “Possessed” (what he said one must be to take the job), and the best piece of advice in Washington, “Stay Alive.”

Sounds like Smith might have more time these days to actually watch a few of those flicks.

Family Reunion. The Congressional brothers Levin dined together on Thursday night, and as far as our HOH tipster could tell, there wasn’t a brotherly squabble to be heard.

Michigan Democrats Sen. Carl Levin and Rep. Sander Levin broke bread at the Capitol Hill restaurant Aatish, our tipster says, and were accompanied by an unidentified woman.

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