Elton’s Song

Posted January 24, 2003 at 6:39pm

Elton’s Song. In his rush to support a potential war in Iraq, Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.) has apparently misplaced his copy of the Constitution.

In a strange approach to “constituent service,” Gallegly lashed out at a small group of citizens who showed up at his Thousand Oaks, Calif., office last

week to peacefully protest his position on the war.

“Anybody that can count to 10 without taking their shoes off would know better,” Gallegly said in slamming the intelligence of the protesters.

A security aide shooed the protesters away because, in the words of Gallegly, they were “violating the rights of innocent people in our building that are trying to do their business.” (Never mind a Congressman trying to violate the First Amendment right to free speech.)

“It should be embarrassing to them,” Gallegly, who was in Washington during the protest, told the Ventura County Star in a telephone interview. “It shows either a lack of intelligence or a lack of class.”

Gallegly noted that he was particularly peeved about the fact that two of the protesters had — gasp! — signs. The nine-term lawmaker, who happens to sit on both the International Relations and Judiciary panels, quickly got a lesson in both diplomacy and the Constitution from his hometown paper.

The editorial page of the Star, which endorsed Gallegly in the last election, charged that the Congressman has forgotten that “he is paid to listen to his constituents — not just the ones he agrees with.”

The protesters, who were connected to the liberal group MoveOn.org, were trying to drop off a petition with 1,000 signatures from Gallegly’s constituents that urged the Bush administration to let United Nations inspectors finish their job in Iraq without a deadline. While the group was formed to voice support for then-President Bill Clinton during the impeachment drama, the newspaper noted that party affiliation should not impede a group’s ability to voice their opinions.

“Who were these unintelligent, classless, embarrassing people who can’t even count without taking off their shoes? They included a teacher, a retired chaplain, a chiropractor, an attorney, high school students, senior citizens and a little boy, from all corners of Ventura County,” editorialized the newspaper.

“Mr. Gallegly owes an apology to the men, women and teenagers who gathered at his office to inform him of their views.”

Gallegly spokesman Tom Pfeifer told HOH that the protesters “pounded on the door” of the Congressman’s office. He said the protesters then announced to a Gallegly aide — “in an intimidating tone” — that they were going to have a press conference.

“He has a very low threshold of tolerance for anyone who is rude and confrontational with his staff,” said Pfeifer. “Elton is very protective of his staff, he considers them family.”

Pfeifer added, “As far as his words, he could have picked better words. But they were rude and confrontational. They were not there to simply deliver a petition. You don’t need 25 or 30 people with press in tow just to deliver a petition.”

Byrd’s Advice to Wannabe Presidents. Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who got $150,000 tucked into the omnibus appropriations bill for his new President Pro-Tempore Emeritus office, is reluctant to offer any counsel to or pick sides among his many colleagues who are angling to become president of the United States.

“I don’t have any advice for them,” Byrd said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast on Friday. “There are some good candidates out there. They’re men with experience, knowledge. They’re smart. I think each of them has something to offer.”

Noting that he “touched my toes in the water” during the 1976 presidential campaign, Byrd stressed that he only ran as a favorite son in his home state because Jimmy Carter didn’t mount a campaign in West Virginia. Byrd qualified for federal money, but he declined to take it for two reasons.

“I thought there might be a brokered convention, number one,” he said. “Number two, I saw the Majority Leadership right within my grasp.”

Byrd realized that if he started campaigning across the country, he would become a slacker on his responsibilities as Majority Whip. That would risk the “sure thing” of becoming Majority Leader: “I really didn’t harbor any belief that I was that close to [becoming president].”

If any of the current presidential candidates want to press Byrd to give them some actual advice, they should get the legendary Senator to take them out to lunch. The omnibus also included a $7,500-per-year expense account for the President Pro Tem Emeritus.

Springer for Senate? Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) clearly wants no part of a Senate campaign for Jerry Springer, which would obviously add further decay to the level of debate in the chamber (think chair-throwing).

The trash-talk show host, who mulled a Senate bid in the months leading up to the 2000 campaign, is now flirting with the idea of challenging Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) next year.

“There are pluses and minuses,” Springer said. “The plus is that I’m known by everybody. The minus is that I’m known by everybody.”

Let’s get back to the minuses. Before his distinguished tenure as a talk-show host, Springer served as mayor of Cincinnati — until he paid for a prostitute’s services with a check and got enmeshed in scandal.

“He wouldn’t be my first choice,” Daschle said, somewhat diplomatically, on CNN’s “Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff” on Friday. “I understand he was a mayor at one point, but I think we can do a lot better than that, and I’m sure Ohio will.”

HOH is disappointed that Daschle is down on Springer’s bid, however, because the talk-show host could have been, if nothing else, a great guest on Woodruff’s new segment, “Capital Cooks.”

Last week’s debut of the segment featured Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) cooking crab cakes. “Now, life can never be too spicy, as far as I’m concerned, but you cannot over-spice your crab cakes,” said the spunky Senator.

“This is not dainty, this is not delicate, this is not the diplomatic corps. This is crabs!”

Are You Ready For Some Football? National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman George Allen (Va.), who flew out to San Diego for the Super Bowl, was in sporting mood all last week.

Allen headed to California because he wanted to show allegiance to his brother Bruce Allen, general manager of the Oakland Raiders, at Sunday’s big game. Earlier in the week, Allen handed out rugby shirts with Majority Makers sewn into the shirt following the GOP Conference meeting.

“They are rugby shirts because I played rugby, as well as football, and it is a great amount of camaraderie, fun, competition and teamwork,” Allen said. “They are the shirts to remind everyone they need to stick together as a team.”

As Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) showed off one of the shirts, he was asked whether it was going to spur him to help raise gobs of money for the NRSC. “Four and a half to five million,” he quipped.

Allen pledged that future rugby shirts will either be silver and black (in honor of the Raiders) or burgundy and gold to show allegiance to the Washington Redskins, the team once coached by his legendary father.

Allen said he’s proud of his brother’s connection to the controversial Raiders. “The whole organization — and Allens — are renegades and the fact the establishment doesn’t like the Raiders makes it all the more wonderful — especially if they can win the Super Bowl,” he said.

Working for Raiders owner Al Davis, Bruce Allen is clearly a renegade. But the Senator is now part of the GOP leadership.

“No one considers me representing the establishment,” said a smiling Allen.

Some folks on Capitol Hill, however, were rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers because one of their stars is defensive giant Roman Oben.

Cory Alexander, top aide to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), went to high school with the player. And the NFL star interned for Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and briefly worked for Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) as an anonymous caseworker because he simply wanted to get some legislative experience.

“He was perhaps the most sincere, most hard-working guy you could meet,” said lobbyist John Edgell, Kucinich’s former chief of staff. “Aside from the fact that he’s six-foot-four, 320 pounds — all muscle — you wouldn’t know he was in the NFL.”

Air Stanko. John Stanko, longtime counsel on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has signed up with Hunton & Williams as a partner on the regulated industries and government relations team.

Stanko served as lead House staffer on several Clean Air Act amendments and other environmental legislation. He also was a member of the U.S. delegation to the global climate treaty negotiations and the U.S./Canada transboundary ozone agreement.

Meanwhile, Nancy Buermeyer has left the Human Rights Campaign to become a vice president at The Raben Group LLC. She spent nine years at the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political organization.

Buermeyer will now work on issues ranging from New England fisheries to lesbian and gay immigration rights.

Other Than That, Mr. Lott, How Was the Play? While the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader had some egg on its face for running a story declaring that Daschle would run for president on the very day he dropped out, the Mississippi-based Delta Business Journal probably went a little too far out on a limb in its December edition.

The monthly publication featured a large photo of a certain lawmaker on its front page with a big headline: “Senator Trent Lott: The pride of Mississippi, GOP.”

The story, which was obviously written just before the infamous birthday party for then-Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), had a subhead reading: “Political leader seizes the day with new election mandate.” There was clearly no way of seeing what was to come.

In an interview with the newspaper’s publisher, Scott Coopwood, right after the November elections, Lott was described as “buoyant” about the “historical opportunity” before him.

“A lot of people don’t get a second chance in life and I’m fortunate to be back in this leadership position,” Lott said before the controversy that brought him down. “Of course, I’m obviously excited and we’re ready to get to work to do some things for Mississippi and for the country.”

Discussing his first tour of duty as Majority Leader, Lott said he was disappointed by Sen. Jim Jeffords’ (I-Vt.) 2001 party switch, which shifted power in the chamber. “But, honestly, such lows were far and few between for me,” Lott said.

Lott also discussed his start in politics with a Congressman who was a segregationist after law school. “Events really came about to [shape] my life,” Lott said. “After only a year in private practice, the local Congressman, Bill Colmer — a Democrat, ironically — called me one day and asked me to come to work for him in Washington as his administrative assistant.

“The rest,” he chuckled, “is history.”

The jump page of the story, ironically enough, included a photo of a smiling Lott shaking hands with Bush. And Lott contended that “results must follow” the election victory.

“[There] is no reason to not believe that, under Senator Trent Lott’s tenacity and experience, results will indeed follow,” concluded the Delta Business Journal. “Results beneficial for both America and for the state that Lott has represented so well.”

Mark Preston contributed to this report.