Fork in the Road, er, Windshield

Posted November 17, 2003 at 6:44pm

The Hammer’s flack almost got killed by The Pitchfork.

Stuart Roy, communications director for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), was involved in a freak accident on Sunday in which a pitchfork traveling at 100 miles per hour pierced the windshield of his SUV and came within inches of decapitating him.

“It was a cross between ‘American Gothic’ and ‘Green Acres,’” Roy, who was safely back at his desk in the Capitol on Monday, told HOH. “It was totally bizarre.”

Ironically enough, Roy’s near-death experience was caused by the Medicare reform bill — which is supposed to make people healthier. With the deal on the legislation forged late Saturday night, the staffer had to drive from his Alexandria, Va., home to the Capitol at about noon Sunday to attend a press briefing on the conference report.

“I had just dropped off my wife and daughter — luckily right after church,” cracked Roy.

He then started taking the same route he’s been traveling for 13 years to get to work on Capitol Hill: the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to I-295. On the bridge, however, a pitchfork came loose from a truck traveling in the opposite direction from Roy.

“Suddenly glass is everywhere so I slammed on the brakes,” Roy recounted. “I closed my eyes and opened my mouth. Glass gets in my mouth, so I started spitting it out. I look up and there’s a pitchfork staring me in the face.”

The staffer is still not sure how he didn’t crash into a retaining wall or careen into another vehicle. Two of the fork’s four tines came through the windshield and past the steering wheel, but a third tine somehow got stuck in the frame of the driver’s side door — preventing the entire tool from severing the head of the man who works for The Hammer.

Roy was a star on various local TV and radio outlets on Sunday night and Monday morning, and he was pelted all day Monday with e-mails from friends razzing him about his good fortune. “I just saw photos of Boss Roy’s driving adventure this weekend,” Kevin Madden, a press aide for Bush-Cheney 2004, wrote to Roy. “It’s a good thing you were leaning over to get that ‘New Kids on the Block’ CD off the passenger seat, otherwise we’d be shaking our heads and lighting candles at pitchfork memorials all over Cap Hill right now.”

Roy’s wife, Shelly, cracked to her husband: “If you die by way of the pitchfork, it’s probably not a good sign as to which way you’re headed.”

But it was left to young Halley, who had a party for her third birthday the day before the incident, to bring Roy back to Earth — lest his celebrity status go to his head. “I’m so glad you’re OK Daddy,” she said Sunday night. “But don’t get any glass in the house.”


Talking Turkey. With speculation swirling about his political future, Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) said Monday that he will announce his decision “right after” the Thanksgiving holiday.

Breaux said the decision will be reached with his family during the holidays.

“I’ll make a decision over Thanksgiving,” Breaux said, again dismissing talk that he would resign immediately now that a Democrat, Kathleen Blanco, has been elected governor back home.

Some Democrats think it might be good for Breaux to exit early in order to give Rep. Chris John (D-La.) a chance to be appointed as his replacement. But others note that such an appointment might be a hindrance for John, who has been preparing to run for the Democratic nomination to replace Breaux if the Senator retires.

In any event, Breaux said that Blanco’s victory will have no bearing on his decision. “It has no effect. I said that before [the election] and I’ll say that after,” he said.

Wes’ Wife a Republican? The Democratic Party, which already faces an uphill fight to replace President Bush with a Democrat in the White House, may have an even more difficult task finding a lifelong Democratic first lady to replace Laura Bush.

Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and heir to the multimillion-dollar ketchup empire, was a longtime Republican before switching her party registration to Democrat this year.

Now comes word that Gertrude Clark, wife of Democratic presidential contender Wesley Clark, spent two years volunteering her time in the Capitol Hill office of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

Gertrude Clark, known as “Gert” to her friends, apparently got to know Hutchison a bit when her husband was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. When the couple moved to Washington in the mid-1990s, she volunteered for two years in Hutchison’s office answering phones and sorting mail.

“She basically helped out with constituent service, organizing events and event planning,” said Hutchison spokesman Kevin Schweers.

Does that mean Gert Clark is a Republican? It’s unclear.

Wes and Gert are registered to vote in Arkansas, where a quirky election law does not require voters to disclose their party affiliation.

When asked about Gert’s job with Hutchison, Clark campaign spokeswoman Kym Spell said cryptically, “My understanding is that Hillary Rodham Clinton worked for Barry Goldwater.”


Roasting Barney. Razor-tongued Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who’s normally throwing brickbats at the GOP on the House floor, will be beating back insults himself tonight.

Frank will be roasted by the likes of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Reichen Lehmkuhl at a tribute dinner at the Hyatt on Capitol Hill.

Lehmkuhl, a former Air Force officer, won the $1 million grand prize on CBS’ “Amazing Race 4” with his partner Chip Arndt earlier this year. They were the first openly gay winners of the show.

Frank is being honored at a fundraiser for the National Stonewall Democrats, which bills itself as a group trying to “advance the rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

CNN’s Paul Begala will serve as emcee, with other roasters slated to include Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Julia Carson (D-Ind.) as well as Democratic strategist Ann Lewis — Frank’s sister.

Paul Kane and Brody Mullins contributed to this report.