Simple Life? Simply No

Posted September 14, 2004 at 6:42pm

Think Washington has had its fair share of famous interns? Fox television doesn’t think so.

If the network has its way, the next notable Congressional interns will come to Capitol Hill already famous and driving a hot pink pickup truck. That’s right — the producers of “The Simple Life” are trying to get internships in key offices for the show’s rich girl stars, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie.

[IMGCAP(1)] Among the GOP leaders the show has contacted to provide day care, er internships, are Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and Senate Republican Conference Chairman Rick Santorum (Pa.).

In the show, Hilton, granddaughter of hotel founder Conrad Hilton, and Richie, daughter of pop singer Lionel Richie, drive around the country like ditzes with their dogs Tinkerbell and Honey Child, getting odd jobs and learning how to live like regular gals, sans unlimited credit, private jets and yacht parties.

“We would love to have Paris and Nicole intern at Senator Santorum’s office in Washington, D.C. It would be very entertaining to see them interacting with the staff, participating as interns with their own unique spin,” Ryan Crow, an associate producer of “The Simple Life,” wrote to Santorum’s office.

The most entertaining part of all, Crow said, would be: “They can help with administrative duties and perhaps they may have the opportunity to suggest certain policy reform or draft a bill for Congress.” Sure. How about an overhaul of Manolo Blahnik shoes? Or perhaps a bill to create more Pucci scarves and Marc Jacobs purses. Maybe even federal funding for homemade videos with a hotel heiress!

Crow told Santorum’s office the show would be “open to any suggestions you may have as far as duties.”

Hastert spokesman John Feehery said one of the show’s producers called him and explained it “would be great” if Paris and Nicole could intern in the Speaker’s office for a day.

“They would want to film them interning here,” Feehery said.

Feehery added that he had not yet asked Hastert whether he’d be interested in hosting Hilton and Richie, but the vibe HOH got was: Don’t think so.

“I can tell you one thing: This is not the Simple Life,” Feehery said.

Santorum seems to have turned the show down as well. Press Secretary Robert Traynham told HOH:

“Senator Santorum has a policy of hiring only native Pennsylvanians to intern in his office. Paris, as you know, grew up living in the swanky Waldorf Astoria in New York City, and although we have several Hilton hotels in Pennsylvania, we don’t have any Waldorfs! Sorry Paris.”

Anyhow, Congressional rules prohibit commercial filming on Capitol grounds. George Clooney and his HBO series “K Street” were booted off Capitol Hill last year. HOH doubts GOP leaders will bend the rules this time, even for the Hilton and Richie kids.

Josi the Pussycat. The New York State Society’s annual “Buffalo Nite in Washington” could get a tad rowdier than usual this year.

Among the Buffalo Nite honorary co-chairs is Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). And originally among those scheduled to perform is (or, perhaps by now, was) Christian Josi, a former executive director of the American Conservative Union who wrote the scathing book “Hillary Rodham Clinton: What Every American Should Know.”

The book, published in 2000 during Clinton’s run for Senate, essentially listed a litany of mostly right-wing Hillary indictments tying her to every radical group from Marxists and Black Panthers to plain old socialists. Josi referred to the former first lady’s record as one of “scandal, corruption and radical politics.”

Josi is now vice president of the public relations firm Dezenhall Resources and, on the side, sings in both a jazz quartet and a big band. He performed twice at parties held during the Republican National Convention and his quartet was invited to perform at Buffalo Nite next Wednesday.

Again, “was” may be the operative word.

It seemed many New York State Society members weren’t aware of the pending clash of personalities. Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.), who is this year’s “distinguished honoree,” certainly had no idea.

“Oh, God!” he exclaimed, laughing. “Do [Society members] know this? I’d better check.”

Moments later, HOH received a phone call from a source who said there was a mix-up, that Josi was not the invited entertainer for the party. Instead, it would be a piano player named Sean Lane.

Susan Unger, an organizer of Buffalo Nite, called later to say that she, too, was under the impression that Lane — not Josi, whom she said she had never heard of — would be performing “background” music for the party.

Thing is, Lane is the piano player in the Christian Josi Quartet.

Josi, when contacted by HOH, said he’s certain he was invited to perform at Buffalo Nite. He said he was just doing his job when he wrote that nasty book about Clinton and that the two should now let bygones be bygones.

“Clinton-hating is way too ’90s, and I am totally over it. I look forward to the possibility of meeting Senator Clinton. In fact, I’ll bring her a copy of my new CD,” Josi said. Then, realizing that he lives in Washington, D.C., where bygones don’t exist, he quickly added, “This, of course, is assuming that I will still be doing the show after your column runs!”

But it sounds like Clinton may be just fine partying with Josi.

Asked what she thought of her former detractor being invited to perform at a party she is co-chairing, Clinton Press Secretary Philippe Reines told HOH: “His transgressions in the 2000 campaign aside, we hear that now Mr. Josi’s a pussycat.”

Preparing to Fight Back. Liberal activists are seizing on Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry’s warning last weekend that Republicans may try to suppress the black vote in November. “We are not going to stand by and allow another million African-American votes to go uncounted in this election,” Kerry told the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

Now, a leading gay activist tells HOH, black leaders and gay activists are teaming up to create “Operation Fight Back” — what the activist described as an “inoculation strategy” against any GOP effort to suppress minority votes.

“We anticipate that gay marriage and gay rights will be one of the scare tactics,” said the activist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The activist said Operation Fight Back will concentrate on battleground states, where the swing vote could make all the difference for the Senator from Massachusetts. The source said activists will be targeting people like “the 65-year-old Catholic woman who sides with John Kerry on the issues” but who might stay home or vote for President Bush if she receives anti-gay messages from the Bush campaign close to Election Day.

“Our message to those voters is: Don’t let George W. Bush steal the election again.”

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt dismissed the charges of voter suppression as “baseless, shameful and divisive.”

Ben Pershing contributed to this report.

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