Lott vs. Carville

Posted September 19, 2003 at 3:28pm

Did Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.) bar HBO’s “K Street” from filming in the Capitol because the show poked a little fun at him?

James Carville thinks he might have. [IMGCAP(1)]

Carville admitted that he does not have any solid proof for his charge, but he noted that Lott’s Rules panel issued the ban.

“I don’t know if it is a rose, but it looks like a rose and smells like a rose,” Carville said.

Susan Irby, Lott’s spokesman, denied the charge. She said that the Ethics Committee contacted Lott about the issue and that a letter issued by both committees simply “restated the policy that has been in place since 1978. The Capitol can’t be leased as a movie set.”

Other Lott defenders say that he would not have known about the scene, since the show did not premiere until a few days after the Rules committee gave HBO the boot.

The controversy stems from a scene in the first episode in which Carville and fellow Democratic campaign consultant

Paul Begala are shown prepping former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean before a Democratic presidential debate.

After Dean answers a question in the practice debate about the small percentage of minorities in Vermont, Begala suggests a humorous alternative: “If a percentage of minorities that’s in your state has anything to do with how you connect with African-American voters, then Trent Lott would be Martin Luther King.”

When Dean used the line nearly word for word in the actual debate, Democrats in the audience laughed. Lott was surely not as pleased.

But Irby said the line had nothing to do with Lott’s decision to remove the show’s film crews from Capitol Hill.

“We had no choice but to enforce the U.S. Code and enforce the rules of the Senate,” Irby said.

Carville agreed that Lott “is on pretty solid ground” in terms of the law. But he dubbed Lott’s move the “Pascagoula Payback.”

Not everyone associated with the “K Street” program, however, agrees with Carville.

Stuart Stevens, a Republican consultant and another consultant for the show, said Carville is “dead wrong.”

“Oliver Stone might try to connect those dots,” said Stevens, a Mississippi native and Lott ally, “but it would take Judge Judy two seconds to dismiss this case.”

Love it or Leavitt! Washington-based environmental groups are gearing up for an energetic battle over President Bush’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency with a clever new slogan: “The Environment: Love it or Leavitt.”

The catchphrase refers to Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R), the White House’s choice to replace former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman at the EPA.

The National Environmental Trust last week distributed 2,000 bumper stickers and buttons bearing the phrase to Senators and staffers. Because the group’s tax-exempt status prohibits it from purchasing commercials, it is relying on the U.S. mail to get the word out, according to people in the organization.

The Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing on Leavitt’s nomination this week.

Pilots Arm Themselves. The Coalition of Airline Pilots has picked up a lobbying firm to help it push for legislation to ensure that all pilots can carry handguns in the cockpit.

For help, the association has turned to Alexander Strategy Group, a firm with close ties to the House Republican leadership. The firm boasts lobbyists like Tony Rudy, former chief of staff to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Verizon Reaches Out. Verizon Communications has hired the lobbying firm Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and chief lobbyist Ivan Schlager to work on general telecommunications issues on Capitol Hill.

Before joining Skadden Arps, Schlager served as the chief Democratic counsel to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee under Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), the panel’s current ranking member.

Now Playing on Capitol Hill. The Philadelphia Orchestra has hired Hill Solutions to help boost funding for arts and cultural programs. Meanwhile, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce brought on Hill Solutions to “look for opportunities” in medical research.

Fighting for Freddie. As the pressure continues to mount on government-sponsored enterprises on transparency issues and fiscal management, the home mortgage lender Freddie Mac has signed on ML Strategies to monitor “general issues” affecting GSEs, according to lobbying filings.

ML Strategies is run by Mark Buse, a former top aide to Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.).