Mistaken Identity

Posted October 3, 2003 at 6:25pm

Sultry actress Catherine Zeta-Jones made quite a stir among the male staffers in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s(D-Calif.) office Thursday when the screen star came to the Capitol with hubby Michael Douglas to lobby on nuclear nonproliferation.

But the most radioactive moment may have come when Douglas walked up to House aide Christine Pelosi and asked, “Are you the filmmaker? We’ve heard about your movie.”

Douglas had Rep. John Tierney’s (D-Mass.) chief of staff mixed up with Alexandra Pelosi, the Minority Leader’s documentary-making daughter.

The proud sister, however, was not offended by Douglas because the family is currently celebrating the fact that Alexandra won an Emmy for the documentary “Journeys with George,” about George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. The film, which Pelosi edited along with Aaron Lubarsky, won for Best Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming Single or Multicamera.

And Christine is used to the mix-ups. She faced a somewhat similar fate upon introducing herself to retired Gen. Wesley Clark at the recent Democratic presidential debate in New York.

“Wait a minute. I just met another Pelosi daughter,” a confused Clark responded.

The Tierney staffer quickly filled him: Her sister the filmmaker is now trailing Clark and the nine other Democratic presidential candidates for a sequel. “I told him, ‘You could be a part of Emmy number two,’” she recalled. “He smiled. He’s ready for it.”

The family is banking on another smashing success. “She is now surveying the talented Democratic field in pursuit of Emmy number two,” Christine Pelosi told HOH.

Unfortunately for the Democrats, however, the film may do better than the field.

Rush to Judgment? Nancy Pelosi could barely hide her glee last week when a reporter at her press briefing mentioned that conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh is in a bit of “hot water” these days.

“Really?” Pelosi asked sarcastically about the charges of racism leveled against Limbaugh, as well as talk of a Florida drug investigation involving him.

The leader proceeded to note she was offended that ESPN hired Limbaugh in the first place, not necessarily because of his political persuasion. While she may not look like a couch potato, Pelosi suggested she’s very serious about the sanctity of her Sunday TV viewing habits.

“Whether it is Rush Limbaugh or whoever it is, I would just as soon keep sports and politics separate in terms of my viewing at home,” she opined. “So whatever it was he said, I know it was inappropriate. He is an inappropriate person. But I’m awfully glad that they have taken a political person out of the sports world because who really needs that when you are trying to watch a game?”

This Is Your Program on Drugs. With the benefit of hindsight, transcripts from Limbaugh’s old syndicated television show seem to be a touch ironic.

“Warning — especially to those of you who are allowing your children to watch tonight’s show; I am on drugs,” Limbaugh said on March 4, 1993, quickly explaining that he was suffering from a nasty cold and the only way to deal with it is to “plow drugs into my body” all day.

“See, our college students know exactly what I’m talking about tonight,” Limbaugh said to “applause and cheers,” according to the transcript found through Lexis-Nexis. He stressed, however, that there were no “long-haired, maggot-infested, dope-smoking FM types in our audience, folks.”

He opened the next night’s show by declaring, “Welcome, by the way, folks, to Rush Limbaugh, the TV Show, still on drugs.”

According to the transcript, Limbaugh added, “It’s a beautiful thing. [Sniffs as if he’s doing cocaine].”

Plane Disgusting. Even the most hardened political operatives in both parties were stunned last week to learn that Ernie Blazar, longtime press secretary for Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), had used his office computer to help set up a pro-GOP Web site whose domain name ridiculed the death of former Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan (D).

Bond promptly fired Blazar upon learning of the site, n835.blogspot.com, which was named for the tail number of the plane that crashed in 2000, killing the governor, his son and a longtime aide.

An anonymous note on the site had declared the domain name was not chosen by accident: “It marks an inflection point in current Missouri politics. On that day, the worm began to turn.”

The governor, of course, was elected posthumously to a Senate seat. His widow, Jean Carnahan (D), was subsequently appointed to take his seat in the chamber. She lost her re-election last year to now-Sen. Jim Talent (R).

The blog included a button marked “Drunk With Power” that linked to the site of Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-Mo.), who sought treatment for alcoholism earlier this year.

Bond responded with a statement declaring he had no knowledge of the “totally unacceptable” attacks. “I offer my sincere apologies, and those of my staff, to all those offended by these messages.”

60-Minute Roast. CNN’s Judy Woodruff is calling in some of the big guns to help throw plenty of zingers at Don Hewitt, the legendary executive producer of CBS’s “60 Minutes,” at Wednesday’s 15th Annual Roast for Spina Bifida.

Woodruff and husband Al Hunt of the Wall Street Journal throw the classy — and hysterical — event each year in honor of their 22-year-old son, Jeffrey, who has battled the disease. “I tell him every day he’s my hero,” she told HOH.

It wasn’t that hard to find roasters looking for some payback on Hewitt, who has skewered his share of Washington insiders over the years. “There’s probably nobody in Washington who hasn’t been affected by ‘60 Minutes’ in one way or another,” Woodruff said of a show known for its investigative exposés.

Among the roasters will be Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) — who, let’s face it, has been on the receiving end a time or two — as well as Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card.

Woodruff added that CBS’s Lesley Stahl has “graciously agreed to skewer her boss,” which, of course, could get quite fun.

Previous dinners have featured stars such as NBC’s Tom Brokaw and shock jock Don Imus getting roughed up by various pols.

“Sometimes I’m looking at them all before they speak and thinking, ‘Oh God, what are they going to say about each other?’” said Woodruff, adding of the roastees: “The guys they cover get to turn it around and give it to ’em.”

Left My Heart in Northwest D.C. Tony Bennett will be crooning away Oct. 15 at a fundraiser for Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D-N.Y.) leadership PAC.

The gravel-voiced lawmaker, who’s expecting to raise $250,000, is holding the event at BET founder Robert Johnson’s D.C. mansion.

Mistaken Identity Redux. Colleagues spent a fair bit of time ribbing Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) last week about HOH’s item on how he’s been repeatedly confused with former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who’s at the center of the CIA leak flap.

And as fate would have it, there was another odd development when the Congressman served as the featured guest at D.C.’s Rotary Club last Wednesday.

The lawmaker’s spokesman, Wesley Denton, perused the program and took a gander at that week’s featured speaker. “None other than Ambassador Joe Wilson,” he recounted. “Maybe this town just isn’t big enough for two Joe Wilsons.”

The Other Wilson. HOH was certainly surprised to tune in to a recent episode of Bill Maher’s somewhat-raucous HBO show to find Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) appearing between comedian Dana Carvey and high-strung actor Tim Robbins.

“You were probably thinking, ‘They chose the most boring, most serious lawmaker,’” said the Congresswoman.

Perhaps. The rather straight-laced lawmaker rolled with it as the show bounced around from Robbins using a very bad verb to suggest that conservatives like Limbaugh had wimped out of military service to Maher using various profanities to Carvey joking about Arnold Schwarzenegger having sex with “midgets and carnival barkers,” among others.

All the while, Wilson just laughed — and then consistently tried (in vain) to steer the conversation back to serious subjects. And she didn’t back down to the liberal Robbins’ attacks. “I didn’t shame my family, did I?” she asked with a laugh.

Then there was Carvey, mimicking Schwarzenegger’s voice and enumerating a plan to institute a “tax on the orgasm when you’re pumping up.”

Wilson allowed that she grew uncomfortable during various parts of the show, but she took it in stride. “I was laughing so hard at Dana Carvey that I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I really enjoyed it. I had a blast.”

And besides, her brother (while not necessarily overly impressed with her distinguished military and political careers) thought it was neat that she appeared on Maher’s show. So can we expect her to appear at The Improv soon?

“My future in comedy,” she responded, “is severely limited.”

Lamar’s Golden Gavel. While he once wanted to be president, freshman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) landed a “Golden Gavel” last week, so he has that going for him.

At Tuesday’s closed-door Senate GOP Conference lunch, Majority Leader Bill Frist presented his fellow Tennessean with the special gavel, signifying that the frosh is the first lawmaker to log an agonizing 100 hours in the presiding officer’s chair.

“In keeping with the tradition of the great state of Tennessee,” quipped Frist, “Lamar Alexander has yet again proven himself a true volunteer.”

But is it really “volunteering” if the Majority Leader puts the arm on you?

Geppy’s Gambit. He may look like he’d be more comfortable sipping a glass of milk, but Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) happily endorsed a special cocktail to help raise money for his presidential campaign.

Just a couple of hours before the deadline for third-quarter fundraising last week, three members of the Congressman’s family helped unveil the “Gephardtini” at Bar Rouge.

Gephardt’s wife, Jane, and daughters Chrissy and Kate joined supporters at the D.C. bar for the lawmaker’s “Parties Across America” campaign, an effort to pump last-minute dough into the campaign’s coffers. The cocktail is a blue martini garnished with a bright red cherry, made with Stoli Citrus, blue curacao, sour and soda.

Gephardt spokesman Erik Smith said the boss only drinks milk or Budweiser — which of course is brewed in his home state — but is happy to hear of the new cocktail.

“I can’t think of a more appropriate name for a red, white and blue cocktail with a little kick that might surprise you than Gephard-tini,” joked Smith.

We Depart, You Decide. Heating up the 24-hour network news wars ever so slightly, Trish Turner has left CNN to join rival Fox News Channel as a White House producer.

Turner previously served as producer and planning manager for CNN’s Capitol Hill unit. Before that, she was a prime-time producer in CNN’s special projects unit.

Sad Passing. The office of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) released a brief statement Friday confirming “with great sadness” the death of her husband, Mervyn Jones.

Jones, who was only in his 50’s, died suddenly on Thursday.

“The Congresswoman wishes to thank friends, constituents, and colleagues for their expressions of sympathy and asks that the community allow the family time to grieve,” said the statement.