Real Political Hardball

Posted April 5, 2004 at 6:08pm

Columnist George Will took great pains to cover all of the ideological bases at his annual party celebrating the start of the Baltimore Orioles’ season.

Staking out right field at the Saturday night affair at Will’s Chevy Chase home were Lynne Cheney and Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), while left field was covered

by Orioles owner Peter Angelos, a major campaign donor to Democrats, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Center field, meanwhile, was taken up by moderate Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa).

Will is a member of the board of the Orioles, and the party came just 24 hours before the Birds took the field against the Boston Red Sox for this season’s first game on American soil. The New York Yankees and Tampa Devil Rays officially kicked off the season last week in Japan.

Some of the most interesting bipartisan chatter at the party revolved around the conversation between conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham and Christine Pelosi, daughter of the House Minority Leader and chief of staff to Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.).

Pelosi told HOH: “Laura and I did note that most Americans don’t focus on the presidential race until after the World Series, so it’s safe to say that thanks to the bipartisan hospitality of the Will and Angelos families, we’re all friends at the ballpark — at least ’til the playoffs!”

Occupational Hazard. Did somebody at the Bush-Cheney campaign play a practical joke on GOP lobbyist Henry Gandy of the Duberstein Group?

Or maybe Gandy is just going to have pay a bit closer attention to the details the next time he contributes to the re-election committee.

Gandy’s employer is listed as the “Doberstein Group” in Federal Election Commission filings for his recent contribution to the Bush-Cheney camp.

Even worse is the fact that his occupation is listed as “Sycophant,” according to the folks at PoliticalMoneyLine.com, who first noticed the snafus. Gandy and the Bush camp did not respond to calls seeking comment on Monday.

“Webster’s defines ‘sycophant’ as ‘a person who seeks favor by flattering people of wealth or influence; parasite; toady,’” noted the Web site. “Webster’s defines ‘toady’ as ‘one who does distasteful or unprincipled things in order to gain favor.’”

Car and Driver. Democratic lobbyists Vic Fazio and Tom Jolly are using some unorthodox fundraising tactics to help Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) reach the $100 million mark for his presidential campaign.

Fazio, the former Congressman from California, was negotiating to buy a new Acura for his wife at a D.C.-area dealership when the car salesman starting railing against President Bush. The salesman, whose son was a military man serving in Iraq, said he was angry at Bush and wanted to register as a Democrat and donate to Kerry’s campaign.

“You’re talking to the right guy,” responded Fazio, who now hangs his hat at Clark & Weinstock.

When Fazio returned to pick up the vehicle, the salesman wrote a $1,000 check that the lobbyist plans to turn in at Kerry’s big D.C. fundraising dinner on Wednesday night.

Jolly, meanwhile, jumped into a cab to attend the recent unity dinner that Kerry had with former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter at the National Building Museum. The driver asked for a favor as Jolly arrived at his destination, and the lobbyist was in such in a hurry that he thought twice about stopping.

But then the cabbie, who knew that Jolly was heading to the fundraiser, promptly wrote a $100 check and asked that it be given to Kerry. “I think it’s an example of how the working people feel about how we need to elect a Democratic president,” Jolly told HOH.

But Fazio found out that this method only goes so far. “The downside is when I asked my chiropractor he said, ‘You’re talking to the wrong guy,’” he recalled. “I said, ‘What the hell, I’m on a roll.’”

On the Lamb. Looks like C-SPAN CEO Brian Lamb, who goes out of his way to keep a low profile during his anchoring duties, was a big hit with the sorority gals at Purdue University.

During an online chat at washingtonpost.com last week, Lamb was surprised to hear from a fan in Reston, Va., who mentioned telling his parents about how he enjoys seeing the host on the “Washington Journal” program.

“My mother spit out ‘Brian Lamb? I knew a Brian Lamb at Purdue,’” revealed the fan, adding: “I’m almost too embarrassed to say it, but apparently one of her sorority sisters was quite taken with you! In any case, she said she always thought you had been destined for great things and was glad to see that you’ve done so well.”

The single CEO wrote back: “I am intrigued by who your mother is. Please contact me independently.”

While HOH thought this Internet romance had some potential to bloom, a C-SPAN spokeswoman said Monday that Lamb hasn’t been contacted. Yet.

The Old College Try. Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) turned more than a few heads during the recent House debate over the budget resolution.

It became pretty monotonous as Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), ranking member of the Budget panel, yielded the floor to about a dozen female Members who — one after the next — lambasted the GOP with snappy one-liners.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) rose to oppose the budget “because it cuts women’s education programs.” And Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) charged that the budget “provides virtually no hope for the 20 million women without health insurance in this country.”

That got pretty boring until Watson declared, “I rise against the Republican budget because it would place my USC girls’ number one volleyball team, who were here at the White House yesterday, at risk.”

House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle (R-Iowa), who had stayed silent during the barrage, had finally had enough.

“I certainly have enormous respect for people’s opinions, but I have to say I do not see a volleyball team anywhere in the budget that was mentioned, that we cut a volleyball team,” Nussle said as he waved the GOP budget in the air. “And I am looking through here, and I just do not see it.”

Turning to the Democratic plan, he added, “My guess is that there is not a volleyball team funded in any of the other alternative budgets either, and if there is, I hope to God that it does not pass.”

Nussle added of Watson, “If she can find volleyball or the Women’s Athletic Act or anything in this budget, I would be glad to yield 30 seconds to the gentlewoman if she can find that for me in my budget.”

He’s still waiting.