Lotta Controversy

Posted March 1, 2004 at 6:44pm

There’s yet another squabble brewing over Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) tell-all memoir, “Master of the Game,” which is slated to come out later this year.

After having a messy spat with his former co-author, Kim Eisler of Washingtonian magazine, Lott is now battling his publisher, Regan Books, over exactly when to release the tome.

Lott told HOH that his publisher, the well-known Judith Regan, is pushing to get the book out this fall. But the former Senate Majority Leader wants to

hold off printing the book until after the election.

The Senator is adamant that he’s not trying to avoid any embarrassing details coming out before the elections. He’s just afraid that a fall book release would not get noticed because of the overwhelming amount of media coverage surrounding the campaign season.

“Why else would I be doing it?” Lott said about wanting to sell plenty of copies of his assembled reflections.

Lott may be making some headway at Regan Books, where a staffer initially told HOH that the book was set to be published in September — but an official spokesman later made it seem like the date is still up in the air. “No confirmed on-sale date at this point,” said the spokesman.

As for the details of the book, it’s hard to read Lott’s intentions. On the one hand, he said that the book will not be a payback to enemies: “It’s not a confessional. I’ve taken a lot of that kind of stuff out of there.”

Then again, Lott said he would put in all sorts of juicy stuff, including a detailed account of what his phone conversation was like when then-Republican Whip Don Nickles (Okla.) called one morning in December 2002 to reveal that in a few minutes the Sunday talk shows would be airing his statement calling for Lott to step down as GOP leader.

With 200 pages complete out of what is likely to be a 400-page book, Lott said he spent an entire chapter on the “tobacco wars” on the Senate floor in 1997 — including some very interesting details involving hotel rooms. Yes, hotel rooms.

“I’m going to tell some inside stuff about that that’s never been told — about what happened at a downtown hotel, about what happened at the White House,” Lott teased without elaborating.

Downtown hotel? HOH assumes that anecdote will be a little more interesting than who ordered what from room service.

Sign of the Times. The dramatic fall from grace of Howard Dean may best be told through the music being played at his old presidential campaign headquarters these days.

When the former Vermont governor was riding high in the polls, callers who were put on hold heard the tune, “Impossible Dream” — as in “To dream … the impossible dream!”

But a caller to Dean’s headquarters last week was greeted with “We Are the Champions,” the Queen song that has lyrics admitting “bad mistakes” and getting “sand kicked in my face” from time to time:

“You brought me fame and fortune/And everything that goes with it/I thank you all/But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise/I consider it a challenge before the whole human race/And I never lose.”

Indeed.

Wise Guy. That was West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise (D) pushing his own shopping cart down the aisles of the Safeway in Chevy Chase on Sunday night without any fanfare or entourage in sight.

The former Congressman, who got into a heap of political and personal trouble last year after admitting to an extramarital affair, never sold his D.C. house. So Wise now drives himself back from West Virginia to Washington every weekend in order to be with his wife, Sandy, a former Hill staffer who still works here.

Wise, who is not seeking re-election, then gets up early on Monday and drives himself five and a half hours back to the state Capitol in West Virginia in what has to be the longest commute for any governor in America.

But the governor appreciates the quality time with his son Robert, who’s still attending high school in Charleston and makes the commute with his dad. He also passes the time with plenty of books on tape and likes the ability to ponder: The commute sparked him to crack down on video lottery locations improperly advertising themselves as casinos after noticing an abundance of advertisements on the highway.

His primary mission these days, however, is keeping his wife happy. After getting done with his shopping, Wise beamed to HOH, “I finished my last chore of the weekend.”

Superheroes in Congress. Can you imagine Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) being ready to leap tall buildings in a single bound?

The Montgomery Sentinel newspaper tried to conjure just such a thought on the eve of today’s Maryland primary by throwing three questions at Wynn, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) and the candidates vying to knock them out of Congress.

In addition to two substantive queries, the paper asked: “Imagine you were given the opportunity to become a superhero. You have a choice between two super-powers: the power of flight or the power of invisibility. You are the only person in the world to be given this choice, and you can only choose one.”

Wynn, who used to be hefty but is looking pretty svelte these days, jumped at the chance to be invisible. “I would use my powers to fight crime by eavesdropping on criminal plots in order to thwart them in advance.”

John Kimble, the eccentric candidate who has been the GOP nominee against Wynn in the past four elections, chose flight in an attempt to get the “lost pet” vote. “I think flying would be a great way of avoiding terrorists in airplanes and avoiding the horrible traffic in the area,” he said. “Flying may even help finding lost people and pets too.”

Van Hollen decided to be a bit of a stuffed shirt. “While it would be terrific to have super powers, Members of Congress have to operate in the real world,” he said. “I have supported a range of initiatives to fight crime including tougher criminal penalties for violent crime” — blah, blah, blah.

Robin Ficker, a Republican candidate for Van Hollen’s seat who is best known for serving as a deranged heckler of the opposing team at Washington Bullets basketball games back in the day, of course had an interesting answer.

“I would choose the power of flight, and would use this power to visit each person in the 8th Congressional district on a monthly basis to get their opinion as to how their federal government could better serve them,” he said.

Why couldn’t he have picked invisibility?

Paul Kane contributed to this report.