The Son Also Rises?

Posted February 13, 2004 at 6:10pm

Rep. Joe Baca (D) thought he had finagled a coveted endorsement from former President Bill Clinton for his son’s bid for a state Assembly seat in California.

But then Clinton’s office told the San Bernardino Sun that no such blessing had been bestowed upon Joe Baca Jr.

The Congressman said that Clinton had literally signed on the dotted line when they bumped into each other at a fundraiser the Democratic National Committee threw at the D.C. hip-hop club Dream.

“The man did sign it, it is his signature,” Baca pleaded to the newspaper, noting that he and Clinton have golfed together. “I don’t tell all my staff everything. Bill Clinton himself may not have told his staff.”

Clinton spokesman Tammy Sun told HOH that the big guy did run into Baca at the fundraiser and agreed to support the younger Baca.

“However, at the time, he misunderstood the nature of the race, and because it is a contested primary … he’s not able to endorse any of the candidates,” Sun wrote in an e-mail.

Eating His Word. Top White House economic official Gregory Mankiw probably wishes he had outsourced the letter he sent to Senators last week urging them to read his 2004 Economic Report of the President.

“I hope that you and your staff find this year’s Report useful,” Mankiw wrote to lawmakers.

Unfortunately for Mankiw, the report did prove to be helpful to Democrats trying to make the case that President Bush has mishandled the economy. That’s because the official tried to make the case that it was a “good thing” that the ranks of U.S. service jobs have been thinned by more “outsourcing” overseas.

Mankiw subsequently faced rebukes from Bush and Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), in addition to the pounding he endured from Democrats, after making that statement.

“We found it very useful,” Allison Dobson, spokeswoman for Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), told HOH. “And very illuminating.”

Manny, We Hardly Knew Ye. As if the Senate leak probe hasn’t sparked enough controversy, former GOP aide Manuel Miranda — Georgetown University Class of 1982 — is catching a little flak from folks at his alma mater.

In their annual “Best of …” issue, the Georgetown Voice weekly student newspaper gave the “Best creepy alum” award to the “ubiquitous Manny Miranda.”

Also making the list was CIA Director George Tenet, class of 1976, who was dubbed “Best Georgetown alumnus-cum-scapegoat.”

Miranda, a former aide to Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), resigned this month after admitting that he had read some of the Democratic memos that were improperly accessed by the GOP.

Miranda did not return a call seeking comment on the “award” from the Georgetown Voice, but he has previously defended his actions and said “if anyone has committed a crime,” it is Democrats who were exposed corrupting the judicial nomination process.

Cat and Mouse Game. The cat-calling continues at Amazon.com from critics of Frist.

As HOH reported Wednesday, Democrats have been posting anonymous rants about Frist’s old cat controversy as reviews of the Senator’s new book, “Good People Beget Good People: A Genealogy of the Frist Family.”

A loyal reader e-mailed HOH last week with an update: Nine people at Amazon.com have recommended buying the “Cat Owners Home Veterinary Handbook” in addition to the Frist tome.

And in the section where Amazon notes “customers who shopped for this item also shopped for these items,” one will find the Senator’s previous book on bioterrorism — as well as the “Cat in the Hat Novelization.”

Medicare Mixup. Officials at the Healthcare Leadership Council walked into a bit of a buzz saw last week when a letter revealing ways to promote Medicare reform was accidentally sent to bitter opponents of the new law.

The letter, which was supposed to go only to Democrats and Republicans who supported the legislation, charged that there has been a “great deal of negative, inaccurate propaganda about Medicare reform, doubtlessly aimed at influencing this year’s elections.”

Officials at HLC, which is a consortium of health care executives, offered to write up op-eds “praising your Member for his or her vote on Medicare reform, and countering misinformation that reform opponents may be disseminating.”

Thanks to a computer glitch, however, the strategy document was also sent to people like Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a foe of the new law whose staff believed that HLC was spreading some propaganda of its own.

“I was wondering if you could help me communicate to my constituents that the principal author of this bill stands to make millions of dollars from the pharmaceutical industry. Do you have a sample press release for that?” Sanders spokesman Joel Barkin wrote back to HLC, in an e-mail widely circulated around Capitol Hill.

Barkin was referring to reports that outgoing House Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is set to become the drug industry’s top lobbyist.

The staffer also urged HLC to come up with a sample press release on the probe of whether Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) was offered a bribe to support the legislation. “Still don’t have that one?” cracked Barkin.

HLC spokesman Michael Freeman acknowledged to HOH that he was hit with some “less than congenial” responses to the computer snafu, but he found humor in Barkin’s reply.

“That was one of my favorites,” he said. “I must have got him on a slow day when he had time to write a floor statement-sized response to me.”

Putting Romance Into the Budget. Tom Kahn is trying to prove that the budget process doesn’t have to be boring.

Kahn, Democratic staff director on the House Budget Committee, has gotten engaged to Sussana Sanchez, an economist at the World Bank.

“She’s smart, beautiful and kind,” said Kahn. “I waited a long time to get married, and Suzie was worth every minute of it.”

She may be too good for Kahn, according to House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), who announced the engagement at a panel hearing.

“There’s obviously somebody for everybody in the world, because the staff director for the minority side, Tom Kahn, is engaged to be married,” joked Nussle. “So congratulations.”

Kahn also received some ribbing from his boss, Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), who upon hearing that the couple will wed in August cracked: “You better get married sooner before she changes her mind.”

How old is Kahn anyway? “OMB scored my age at 39,” he said. “We are still awaiting a CBO scoring.”

Journeys With Nancy? Congressional scribes couldn’t help but notice that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has brought in a camera crew to start recording her weekly press briefing with reporters.

Could this mean that footage of mom will be showing up in the latest political documentary on the ’04 campaign being made by Alexandra Pelosi?

No way, according to Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly, who told HOH that the briefings are only being shot so that excerpts can wind up on the DemocraticLeader.House.gov Web site.

“We want to use every tool available to get the word out about what we’re doing,” said Daly.

And based on some of the weak reviews Pelosi received for her official response to this year’s State of the Union address, she may want to review the tapes to punch up her performance. But the leader was right on message at Thursday’s briefing, slamming House GOP leaders for another “drive-by legislative week.”

Tucked In. Tucker Carlson was as shocked as anyone to find out he and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) were among the folks who had made Esquire’s list of “The Best Dressed Men in America” this month.

While Kerry was dubbed the best-dressed presidential candidate, Carlson landed the No. 7 spot on the list that included Andre 3000 of OutKast (No. 2) and Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody (No. 1).

“I don’t think I’ve bought any new clothes since high school, so I was a little surprised,” Carlson told HOH.

That may explain Esquire’s description of Carlson’s “bow tie and simple sport coat” look: “If you’re unabashedly square, this might be the way to go.”

On the Mend. Charles Dujon, legislative director for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), is recuperating from a terrible beating he sustained near the White House earlier this month.

The amateur photographer was attacked by four thugs at 15th and H streets Northwest, right outside the Sofitel, as he headed toward Pennsylvania Avenue to take some shots of the Capitol on the night of Feb. 9.

Dujon had a 50-pound backpack full of camera equipment when one of the men snuck up from behind and jumped on top of the staffer. Three others started pummeling him.

“They were punching me and kicking me in the face,” Dujon told HOH. “The side of my face was the size of Montana.”

Police officers were able to track down the four assailants — three adults and one juvenile — and charged them with two counts of assault with the intent to rob. And the staffer was at least able to smile about the fact that he never gave up his wallet or pricey camera equipment.

“Four guys and they got nothing,” he said. “So I’m at least laughing about that part.”

Like A Rock. Ex-Rep. Larry LaRocco (D-Idaho) has been named president of the re-branded lobbying shop at Fleishman-Hillard.

The group, previously known as FH/GPC, will now be called Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations.

John McCamman, former chief of staff to Rep. George Radanovich (R-Calif.), has joined LaRocco’s team as a senior vice president. Paul Sweet, former top aide to ex-Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.), has also hopped aboard with the same title. Fred Hutchison has signed on as a VP with a focus on financial services.

Mark Preston contributed to this report.