Wilkinson Out?

Posted November 14, 2003 at 6:45pm

It’s looking like Jim Wilkinson, the much-heralded spokesman for next year’s Republican National Convention, may not be long for his current political post.

Republican insiders tell HOH that Wilkinson, who has only been on the job since August, is already in line for a major foreign

policy-related communications position with President Bush.

Officials stressed that nothing is final and shot down the suggestion that Wilkinson may be headed to the Pentagon to be chief spokesman, where he would fill the vacuum left by the recent departure of Torie Clarke.

Republican strategists have been buzzing about the future of Wilkinson, who had a high-profile but controversial tenure as top spokesman at U.S. Central Command in Qatar during the war in Iraq.

Nicolle Devenish, communications director for the Bush-Cheney re-election committee, stressed to HOH that he has already done a magnificent job in New York.

“The job is his for as long as he wants it,” Devenish said Friday. “We were thrilled he took the job and have been thrilled every day he’s been in it.”

Devenish added that she would be “crushed” if Wilkinson, who declined to comment, left for a new gig.

A National Apology No More. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), in his most outspoken rebuke of a maverick conservative colleague, lashed out at Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.), who compared the Democratic filibuster of a black judicial nominee to a “lynching.”

“I was offended. I think it was unfortunate,” Daschle said of Miller’s remark, which came shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday during the marathon debate over judicial nominations, while Daschle himself was on the floor awaiting his turn to speak.

Daschle also demanded that Miller apologize to civil rights groups, like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which issued a statement Thursday excoriating the Georgian for his comments.

During his floor speech, Miller said, “They’re standing in the doorway, and they’ve got a sign: conservative African-American women need not apply. And if you have the temerity to do so your reputation will be shattered and your dignity will be shredded. Gal, you will be lynched.”

In defense of those remarks, Miller said he would stack his civil rights record up against anyone else’s. “I am not the first to use this analogy,” he added. “African American columnist Thomas Sowell first used it in a column on October 24, 2003, and I think it sums up the situation accurately.”

Daschle has generally refrained from criticizing Miller, even after the release of his new book, “A National Party No More,” which lambastes Congressional Democrats. Asked earlier last week whether Miller — who supports all of Bush’s nominees and GOP efforts to change rules for ending filibusters — would get time from Democrats to speak during the debate, Daschle called Miller a “valued” member of the Democratic Caucus.

After Miller levelled the allegation, however, the Minority Leader didn’t hold back. “He doesn’t owe me an apology. He owes them an apology,” Daschle said of the civil rights groups.

If Miller is in any need of friends these days, he’s got plenty of them on the right. Currently in the middle of a book tour that is taking him to the most conservative venues across the country, Miller made the “lynching” comments after a book party for him Wednesday night at the St. Regis Hotel. By 9 p.m. Wednesday, aides to the White House Legislative Affairs Office were seen in the Capitol wearing orange pins with the letters “FOZ.”

Yes, Friends of Zell.

Greg Speed-wagon. Greg Speed, spokesman at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, prides himself on being a serious student of popular music.

So it was especially galling for him to recently find out that thieves had not only broken into his Jeep Cherokee parked near Dupont Circle, but also decided to remove all of his CDs from the vehicle. Far worse, however, was the fact that the thieves decided to toss the music aside on the street like trash.

“The thieves even took the time to remove the [Warren] Zevon disc from the CD player rather than take it with them,” marveled Speed. “I’m definitely not in step with the car thieves.”

Friends and his wife, Senate aide Lona Valmoro, have been razzing Speed about the CD dump. They think the problem lies in the fact that he still loves faded bands like REO Speedwagon that no good thief would want to pilfer.

“Not REO Speedwagon — they’re banned from the car, along with Journey and Styx, despite their name and Lona’s love for painfully bad early-’80s arena rock,” Speed joked.

He added: “I thought DeLay’s people might have been after the Warren Zevon CD since the song ‘Lawyers, Guns & Money’ aptly describes the House under the Republicans. Alas, the thieves passed over that disc as well.”  

Farewell to Clooney? Sorry ladies, but you may have to say goodbye to George Clooney.

Last night’s season-ending episode of HBO’s “K Street” is likely to be the last, according to sources in the television industry and at the cable network.

That’s right, Clooney’s “K Street” might get canceled.

Though HBO officials have not formally nixed the show — nor made plans to talk to Clooney and his team of political consultants-turned-producers — the powers that be are not exactly thrilled with the show’s lackluster ratings.

“We announced it as a 10-episode commitment and this is episode 10,” said HBO spokeswoman Toby Becker. “We don’t have any other commitments.”

There has been some speculation that the show may be revived at least for next year’s national political conventions. But sources in Los Angeles say Clooney’s partner on the program, Steven Soderbergh, is already committed to a handful of other projects for next year.

All that has left the show’s Washington-based crew of political consultants and image-makers, led by James Carville and Mary Matalin, in the dark about whether “K Street” will have a second season.

The couple called a slew of insiders to the offices of their fake lobbying firm Wednesday night for a party, which included the likes of Hollywood lobbyist Jack Valenti, agent to the stars Bob Barnett, The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, Roll Call columnist Stu Rothenberg, MSNBC producer Tammy Haddad and Senate aide Philippe Reines.

Reines, spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), joked that he was “trying to convince Clooney to cast me as the 12th burglar in his upcoming ‘Oceans 12.’”

The real party doubled as a fake bash for the final episode, with Carville telling the assembled crowd the “rumors aren’t true” that the firm is on the brink. But then he noted that all of the office artwork was for sale, suggesting that they indeed are going under.

“All I know is what I know, which is nothing,” Carville said in an interview after the party. “I don’t have any reason to believe that it is [over] or any reason to believe that it isn’t.”

“No decision has been made,” added Michael Deaver, a GOP consultant who came up with the idea for the show along with Carville. “It’s an HBO decision and I don’t think they have talked to everybody they need to talk to.”

If ratings are any indicator, the show will be gone. But its Washington producers and stars are hoping for another run.

“I love doing the show,” said Carville. “I love the show. It’s been a blast. The most fun I’ve every had.”

And let’s face it, this guy’s had some fun over the years.

Left My Sense of Humor in San Francisco. Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) is taking aim at Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) for cracking a harmless little joke about San Francisco.

While taking a gander at a map during a discussion about environmental issues, Bush joked, “It looks like the people of San Francisco are an endangered species, which may not be a bad thing. That’s probably good news for the country.”

Lantos fired off a letter to Bush noting, “With your poor environmental record, I am not surprised to learn that you think endangered species are a laughing matter. It is outrageous, however, that you would make the people of San Francisco the brunt of this feeble attempt at humor.”

But the Congressman couldn’t stop there. He then trotted out a Carnegie Mellon University study ranking San Francisco as the most likely U.S. city to succeed in today’s economy, and couldn’t resist noting that Tampa (31), Orlando (33) and Miami (34) all finished far behind.

“I recommend sticking to self-deprecatory humor,” concluded Lantos, “which is sure to provide a wealth of material.”

Kennedy’s Chief. The other shoe has dropped in the shuffling of staffers between the office of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign.

Kennedy tapped Danica Petroshius to serve as his new chief of staff, where she will fill the shoes of Mary Beth Cahill. Cahill replaced Jim Jordan, who was ousted as Kerry’s campaign manager last week.

Petroshius, an education specialist, was serving as Kennedy’s deputy staff director on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

“I am immensely pleased to be able to select from my staff a strong and effective leader from our legislative and administrative team,” Kennedy said. “Danica’s political judgment and her commitment to our shared ideals are invaluable.”

Kennedy was apparently not eating when he made the announcement to his staff last week — which is more than can be said about Kerry’s decision to squeeze in supper while breaking the news about Jordan.

Paul Kane and Brody Mullins contributed to this report.