Weight and See

Posted September 3, 2003 at 6:59pm

J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.) revealed Wednesday that he had successful gastric bypass surgery to deal with his weight problem, becoming the second Member of Congress in the past year to undergo the procedure that was once considered a radical way to deal with obesity.

Hayworth consulted with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who has lost about 75 pounds since his first surgery in the summer of 2002, before undergoing the procedure Aug. 12 at the Scottsdale Bariatric Center.

“I feel fantastic,” Hayworth said in a prepared statement. “I already have more energy and I’m anxious to put it to use for the people I represent in Arizona.”

Hayworth, who is married with three children, said he discussed the matter extensively with his family and doctors — and came to the conclusion that surgery was the best way to improve his health.

“Like many Americans, I have struggled with my weight for most of my life,” he said. “Having exhausted all non-surgical methods of weight-reduction, I felt I needed to do something definitive to treat the problem before the onset of debilitating health problems.”

The surgery’s popularity has soared in recent years, with hospitals winding up swamped thanks to the publicity generated by patients like the “Today” show’s Al Roker and Sharon Osbourne of MTV fame. Despite the surgery’s move into the mainstream, one in 200 people still die from it.

Rahmbo. Adding more fodder to the tales about the breakneck pace he sets around the office, freshman Rep. Rahm Emanuel

(D-Ill.) ran in the sprint version of a Chicago triathlon over the August break.

The flamboyant former Clinton White House staffer finished with a time of one hour and 29 minutes, placing him 195th out of 1,119 contestants.

Emanuel joked to HOH that he did well in the contest — which featured biking, running and swimming — because he’s in tip-top shape after recently beating the powerful pharmaceutical industry on a controversial issue.

“Ever since we passed the drug reimportation bill I’m scared to turn on the car,” he said. “So I’m running and biking everywhere.”

Barton-in-a-Box. Two staffers for Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) were arrested over the recess for public intoxication after a vehicle went the wrong way through a drive-thru at a Jack in the Box restaurant in the Congressman’s district.

Amy Lynn Swanstrom and Ryan Scott Thompson were both arrested by Ennis Police, according to the Waxahachie Daily Light. Swanstrom, 24, serves as deputy press secretary and systems manager in the D.C. office, while Thompson, 28, is a consultant on Barton’s campaign staff.

Barton’s deputy chief of staff, Samantha Jordan, told HOH that the staffers still have their jobs. But she would not comment on whether they faced any disciplinary action.

“Joe is aware of the situation, but it did not involve our office,” said Jordan. “It was an after-hours event involving two staffers. Beyond that, we have no comment.”

Veggie Tales. Given all of the pork producers in the critically important state of Iowa, it would seem that a vegan presidential candidate like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) wouldn’t stand a chance in the critical first caucus.

But the Congressman is trying to turn the perceived weakness into a secret asset, throwing a “Vegetarians for Kucinich” soiree in Des Moines last month.

As it turns out, 45 veggies showed up at a Vietnamese restaurant to dine with the liberal firebrand.

“If someone who doesn’t eat dairy can get the two founders of a premier ice cream company to endorse him,” Kucinich spokesman Doug Gordon said of the twin nod from the former chiefs at Ben & Jerry’s, “I’m sure he’ll have no problem getting the pork producers of Iowa to endorse him.”

Car Talk. There was some genuine vehicular tension when Rep. John Dingell

(D-Mich.), who has the Ford Motor Co. based in his district, got married to a top General Motors official several years ago.

“It was traumatic — one of the most difficult parts of our marriage,” recalled Debbie Dingell. “The biggest challenge was he wouldn’t drive in a GM and I wouldn’t drive in a Ford.”

After delicate negotiations, a compromise was finally struck: The couple drive a GM vehicle but live in a Fordland development back in Michigan.

She is now soliciting favorite car stories from Members and other VIPs around town for use at a dinner party at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History on Sept. 30.

The bash will celebrate the premiere of a new documentary by Ken Burns, “Horatio’s Drive,” which tells the story of the first cross-country automobile trip in 1903. And GM will be showing off the new Hall of Transportation it funded with a cool $10 million.

Dingell is hoping that the story submissions will be interesting, though presumably not quite as saucy as former President Bill

Clinton’s famous tale about the back of his El Camino. And one can safely assume that there will not be any submissions from Rep. Bill Janklow (R-S.D.) either.

Daschle Departure. Elizabeth Lietz, a longtime assistant in the press shop of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), is jumping into a big challenge.

The highly regarded staffer starts next week as the new communications director in the personal office of Rep. Robert Matsui (Calif.), who is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.