Lost in Translation

Posted June 2, 2004 at 7:01pm

Lost in Translation. Is it true that Oklahoma GOP Rep. John Sullivan’s staff makes up phony names and calls their boss with softball questions when he does local radio back home?

That’s what his own spokesman, Shane Saunders, told the Tulsa World. [IMGCAP(1)]

But it’s not as bad as it seems, Saunders insisted. Staff members use fake names because of privacy concerns. And they only do it when there’s a “lull” in the call-in program to fill dead air.

Tulsa World reporter Jim Myers wrote: “Saunders compared the practice to radio personalities who do not use their real names on their own programs.”

The GOP challenger to Congressman Sullivan — there is no Democrat in the race — was the first radio listener who thought he smelled (or heard) a rat.

After Sullivan’s spokesman went on the record confirming the charges, Sullivan’s opponent went ballistic, issuing a scathing statement on Wednesday.

“This indicates an institutional dishonesty is pervasive in Sullivan’s office,” GOP candidate Bill Wortman said.

But Sullivan says his staffers (emphasis on plural) are not calling the radio station.

Only one of them is.

The aide called KFAQ in Tulsa — while Sullivan was taking calls — as a citizen concerned about rising gas prices, the Congressman explained.

And, yes, Sullivan told us, the aide used a fake name when he called.

The Congressman says he understands if his aides want to protect their identities. “They’re not in the limelight like me having to take this crap all the time,” he said.

Then why in the heck did Sullivan’s own spokesman tell the Tulsa World newspaper that staffers (again, emphasis on plural) have been calling KFAQ with softball questions for their boss when he’s on the air?

“I think something got lost in the translation,” Sullivan said.

Baucus Beat. Wanda Baucus, wife of Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), struck a deal Wednesday to avoid prosecution on misdemeanor assault charges if she attends anger-management classes. She was arrested on April 21 after she allegedly slapped another woman at a gardening center in Northwest Washington. If Mrs. Baucus, 56, completes the course, and avoids any other offenses during that period, the charges against her will be dropped, according to her attorney, David Schertler of the law firm Coburn & Schertler.

“We’re very, very happy with the resolution of the case. We’re hoping this ends the entire matter,” Schertler said.

Sen. Baucus probably hopes so, too. He’s got enough to worry about after he underwent a medical procedure on Tuesday to alleviate an irregular heartbeat, according to his office.

Baucus is expected to be hospitalized for the next couple of days, but will return to the Senate next week.

Baucus fell on Nov. 22 during a 50-mile ultramarathon race, injuring his head, although he completed the race. By early January, fluid had built up near his brain, and surgery was required to relieve the pressure. Baucus was back at work just days later. In a statement released Wednesday by his office, Baucus said “exercise routine and marathon training will follow in the next couple of weeks.”

A Vatican Coverup? The White House certainly is taking President Bush’s papal visit seriously. Sartorially, that is.

Reporters traveling to Rome with him this week received the following dress code memo from White House advance:

“MEMBERS OF THE PRESS CORPS COVERING THE ARRIVAL AT THE VATICAN AND THE MEETING WITH POPE JOHN PAUL II MUST BE IN BUSINESS ATTIRE. MEN SHOULD WEAR DARK SUITS AND DARK SHOES. WOMEN SHOULD WEAR DARK SKIRTS (BELOW THE KNEE), COVERED LEGS, AND CLOSED TOE SHOES. WOMEN MEETING THE POPE ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR A VEIL (PROVIDED BY WHITE HOUSE ADVANCE).”

Heavens to Betsy!

Even the Vatican doesn’t take it that seriously any more.

A priest at the Vatican Embassy here in Washington, who asked that his name not be printed, told HOH that the veil rule is outdated. And so is the dressing-in-black requirement.

So how should ladies who are meeting His Holiness dress?

“Basically, on the conservative side. Perhaps even on the dark side,” the monsignor said. “But there’s no strict requirement like years ago when the women would have to wear some kind of covering on their heads. No. That’s not required anymore.”

One former White House reporter who traveled on Bush’s last visit to the Vatican said she and other female members of the White House Press Corps were asked to wear heels and black dresses, even though they weren’t in the pool and, therefore, not meeting the Supreme Pontiff.

Mike Myers for President? Where do Hollywood heavyweights like Mike Myers go after an exhausting public relations tour promoting the wildly popular and profitable “Shrek 2”?

San Tropez? Ibiza?

No. Try Washington, D.C.

Myers said he decided to slum it in D.C. for a few days after his promotional tour wrapped up to check out how his newly adopted country works. (The Canadian-born actor/comedian became a U.S. citizen a few years ago.)

“It’s all fascinating. I love the pomp and circumstance and totem and taboo of it all,” said Myers after he emerged from watching Senate floor proceedings with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

Why Pryor, you might ask?

“I literally bumped into him in the hallway,” said a star-struck Pryor, who accompanied Myers and his entourage to the Senate Visitors Gallery.

Luckily for Pryor, Myers is travelling with two friends from Arkansas.

Meanwhile, an impertinent New York Post reporter asked Myers if he had voted for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).

A shocked Myers replied, “Is that something one can ask?” But he quickly conceded “yes” he had voted for the former first lady.

When told that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has sponsored a constitutional amendment that would allow naturalized citizens to run for president, Myers immediately put an end to any speculation.

“I have no political aspirations at this time.”

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.