Feelin’ Bad

Posted September 21, 2004 at 6:48pm

Vice President Cheney was miles away stumping in Ohio Monday night. But back in Washington, unbeknownst to him, he was the inspiration for a couple hundred Deadheads for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) who seem like they’ll never forget what the vice president said to Leahy on the floor of the Senate that June day. [IMGCAP(1)]

Actually, HOH believes, many people have forgotten what Cheney said. Because he had the unintended

consequence of replacing a truly dreadful phrase with one now commonly accepted in Washington pop culture: “Go Cheney Yourself.”

At perhaps the most unlikely venue ever for a Dead show — the Ritz Carlton — Deadheads for Leahy showed up for a spectacular, intimate performance by Leahy’s longtime friends Bob Weir and Mickey Hart, formerly of the Grateful Dead, now The Dead.

The opening speech by Leahy supporter Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, set the theme for the night. “Any Senator who’s loved by The Dead and hated by the vice president is a true friend of ours,” he said.

And pretty soon, the band broke out with “China Cat,” followed by “I Know You Rider,” “Loose Lucy,” “Going Down the Road,” “Uncle John’s Band” and many others.

While some Deadheads wore tie-dyed Leahy for Senate T-shirts, others wore blue ones emblazoned with “Annoy Dick Cheney” across the back. And underneath: “Vote Pat Leahy 2004.” The front of the T-shirt shows a Young Republican with a classroom scene drawn below it. The teacher sits at her desk off to the side grading papers. A naughty pupil stands on a chair to reach the blackboard, writing over and over with chalk, “I will not quote the Vice-president on the playground.”

The Ritz ballroom was full of longtime Leahy friends and supporters, including independent television producer Len Hill of California, one of Leahy’s closest friends. Hill blames Cheney for starting the Senate floor tussle. He says the vice president started it by accusing Leahy of being “anti-Catholic” for holding up the nomination of a Catholic judicial nominee. That’s when Leahy, who, incidentally, is Catholic, said something about Cheney’s ties to Halliburton. And that’s when Cheney said, “Go f—k yourself.”

Hill told HOH that Cheney’s comments were unfair, because he knows for a fact that Leahy “goes to church every Sunday.”

Weir told HOH that he thinks Cheney is “pretty unscrupulous” and “doesn’t have much of a sense of humor.”

Kevin Kellems, a spokesman for Cheney, declined to comment on the Leahy fundraiser or the Cheney potty mouth T-shirts. In fact, he cut off the conversation so abruptly that we were unable to ask if Cheney and Leahy at least have the same taste in music.

Leahy danced with his wife for much of the concert and mouthed the words to everything from “Loose Lucy” and “Jack Straw” to “Aiko, Aiko” as his friend Bobby sang.

Weir and Hart performed with the bands O.A.R. and The Flying Other Brothers. Even without the rest of The Dead, they had many a tie-dyed and coat-and-tie Deadhead dancing and twirling in the Ritz ballroom, which, had you not known it was a fundraiser for Leahy, could have been mistaken for either the Twilight Zone or an alternative grief counseling retreat for recovering Jerry fans.

Leahy told HOH that each Dead show is unique “but this was more unique than most. It was an unforgettable evening.”

“Deadheads have a way of finding each other, even in politics,” he said.

So, the question is on the table, is the vice president a closeted Deadhead? Will he and Senator Leahy kiss and make up over “Sugaree?” Stay tuned. HOH will update.

Outsourcing? Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) introduced the House counterpart to Sen. Orrin Hatch’s (R-Utah) bill allowing non-naturalized U.S. citizens to run for president. In a press release announcing the bill, Rohrabacher lists four names: former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (need we say?).

“What do these people have in common?” Rohrabacher asks, then answers, “They are all respected public servants who can not run for president.”

Schwarzenegger, the biggest star at the Republican National Convention, next to Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.), is downplaying the attention from political admirers who fathom him in the White House.

“The governor supports the notion and concept, but he is 100 percent focused on California,” his spokeswoman Margita Thompson told HOH. “He’s in the middle of bill signing right now and a myriad of ballot initiatives he’s either opposing or supporting.”

Highrollers. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.) went to the De La Hoya-Hopkins fight together last weekend in Las Vegas. They were seen on television during the fight sitting on the front row with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

Reid is a former boxer. McCain is a big boxing fan.

Before the fight, McCain was spotted in the sports book at the Mandalay Bay casino by a source who works in the Capitol. “He was friendly, saying hello to folks, very much the man about town,” our source says of McCain.

The Senator confirmed that he did, indeed, place a bet. “I bet on Hopkins and won,” McCain said. Hang on to your seat, folks. Here’s what he won: a whopping $10.

“I wasn’t that sure,” the stone-faced Senator said. McCain wanted it duly noted that he paid for his own ticket to the fight.

Bowel Movement. “If the president is the head of the American body politic, Congress is its gastrointestinal tract. Its vast and convoluted inner workings may be mysterious and unpleasant, but in the end they excrete a great deal of material whose successful passage is crucial to our nation’s survival. This is Congress’s duty.” — From “America,” the book by comedian and Daily Show host Jon Stewart. A spoof on a classroom civics textbook, Stewart’s book is published by Warner Brothers.

Emily Pierce contributed to this article.

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