Doubting Thomas

Posted November 21, 2003 at 6:22pm

There have been many times that House Republican leaders secretly hoped Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) would leave Congress, and for a moment last week it looked like they finally got their wish.

The difficult chairman was listed as “Former Representative William M. Thomas” on the GOP.gov Web site, the official leader-

ship site maintained by House Republican Conference Chairwoman Deborah Pryce (Ohio).

The Web page, which had a handsome photo of Thomas, added that he was “Previously Representing the 21th [sic] Congressional District of California.”

Alarmed that the tricky Medicare negotiations had apparently resulted in the chairman’s ouster, HOH put in a quick call to Pryce spokesman Greg Crist — who instantly figured that Democrats may have been playing games.

“It’s either a technical glitch or a Dan Rostenkowski poltergeist,” Crist joked.

After some checking, Crist discovered that there was a technical snafu based on the fact that Thomas’ office had not updated the content on his section of this particular site since January 2002.

Since redistricting pushed Thomas into California’s 22nd district at the end of that year — and the content hadn’t been freshened up — the system believed that the lawmaker retired when the last Congress expired.

That theory was challenged a bit by the fact that another page on the site listed Thomas as the current chairman of Ways and Means, even though he was still representing the “21th [sic] District.” In any event, GOP aides quickly updated the site and stressed that all was well.

“One hundred percent behind him,” Crist said of the leadership’s support of Thomas. “The people of the 22nd district will always know that Bill Thomas is ‘Mr. Chairman.’”

But one House Democratic aide still dared to dream: “Deborah Pryce and the GOP Conference might be on to something — things would be so much better around here if we really could kick Bill Thomas out of Congress with a point and click.”

Enough of This Crapo. Sen. Mike Crapo (R) is from Idaho, but he’s decided to weigh in on an issue that’s raging within a tiny community in Michigan.

A couple of residents who live on “Crapo Street” in Highland Township are sick and tired of people mispronouncing their street as CRAP-o instead of KRAY-po.

Annoyed that they can’t “give their address out to someone without someone cracking a joke,” according to the Detroit Free Press, the residents are attempting to rename their street.

The Senator, who has a special section of his Web site that explains the proper pronunciation and derivations of his surname, said the joking “is one of the things I have dealt with throughout my entire life.”

“I can certainly offer them moral support,” he said of the families in Michigan.

The Senator has decided to throw his support behind renaming the Michigan road as “Gov. Crapo Street” in honor of the state’s former governor, Henry Howard Crapo.

“I think that changing the name of that street to Gov. Crapo would be great,” said the Senator, adding that he learned of his relation to the former governor only a few years ago. “Ultimately I think it helps people remember why it was named that in the first place.”

Work Those Abs. A lobbyist tuning in to C-SPAN3 last Wednesday night, desperate to keep up with frantic endgame negotiations, thought his eyes were playing tricks on him.

The public affairs programming was abruptly cut off in favor of an abs infomercial starring Suzanne Sommers. Talk about a new meaning for legislative crunch time.

Could this mean an end to C-SPAN’s precious commercial-free programming? No way.

It turns out that basic cable subscribers in D.C. get C-SPAN3 for only part of the day, so the network’s programming suddenly ends each evening at 6 p.m. The cable company slips various programs into its place until the following morning.

Peter Kiley, C-SPAN’s director of affiliate relations, says the solution is to get digital cable. “For an extra few bucks, you get [C-SPAN3] full-time,” he said.

So forget about that “Ripped Abs” call-in program starring Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.).

Freshman Fifteen? Freshman Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.) says she was surprised to recently read in Roll Call that Republicans have already “taken note of her ability to win convincingly as a committed conservative in an ideological swing state.”

In a Detroit Free Press story touting the fact that she may be able to deliver Michigan for President Bush next year, Miller said she didn’t know so much attention is being lavished upon her.

“I’m the last thing from being glitzy,” she quipped. “I’m pretty Middle West, slightly overweight. What you see is what you get.”

Coin a Phrase. Urging his colleagues to “Win One for the Gipper,” Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) has launched a crusade to get former President Ronald Reagan’s visage on the dime.

With a not-so-subtle reference to Showtime’s oh-so-controversial docudrama, Souder introduced legislation that would knock Franklin Delano Roosevelt off the coin.

“Ronald Reagan, as all but the least impartial observer knows, created policies that renewed economic growth, restored pride and confidence in the United States, and strengthened the resolve of the Free World to oppose totalitarianism,” Souder wrote in a “Dear Colleague.”

While liberals may wonder about the price of honoring the fiscally conservative former president, Souder stressed that “the cost of designing and implementing the Reagan dime (between $30,000 and $86,000) would be more than offset by the increased revenue that comes from the institution of a new coin.”

Hooters Redux. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) was none too pleased to hear that the energy bill included a provision to help open a risqué restaurant in Louisiana.

“The energy bill that just passed the House ought to be called the ‘Hooters and Polluters Act’,” cracked the presidential candidate.