Raping Minnesota

Posted September 24, 2004 at 5:30pm

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) sure has a way with words.

He was walking just outside the chamber on the second floor of the Senate wing the other day when his friend Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) from the other body, who also had a reporter in tow, passed by. Oberstar was busy obliging the pesky reporter who accompanied him and failed to pay notice to his friend from West Virginia. [IMGCAP(1)]

But Rockefeller wasn’t about to let Oberstar off the hook without speaking. “Jim, I can forgive you for not saying hello to me, because my grandfather raped your district,” Rockefeller hollered over his shoulder.

What the devil was he talking about? Neither reporter involved knew. Both scratched their heads, figuring it must just be good ol’ Rockefeller dynasty humor. LOL, Senator.

Turns out, Rockefeller was really referring to his great grandfather John D. Rockefeller, Sr. — history’s first billionaire and the founder of Standard Oil. And, yes, as he built the family’s oil and steel empire around the turn of the century, Rockefeller did “rape” what is now Oberstar’s district of its iron ore.

“It’s been longstanding banter between Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Oberstar,” explains Oberstar’s spokeswoman Mary Kerr. Rockefeller has visited Oberstar’s district and vice versa. The two men are great friends, Kerr says.

Rockefeller’s press secretary had the exact same talking points. “It’s a longstanding joke between them,” Stuart Chapman told HOH. “Senator Rockefeller and Congressman Oberstar are friends.”

Guardian Angel. Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) had a powerful moment as she stood in line for breakfast last Thursday in the Cannon carryout. The radio was blaring, as is usually the case, when all of a sudden, clear as a bell, his voice came over the radio. “I Got You Babe” was playing.

Two staffers who stood behind Congresswoman Bono immediately recognized the classic Sonny and Cher tune. They turned to look at Bono, who, one of them said, had a big grin on her face. “It was truly a touching moment,” the source said. “It was like Sonny was reaching out from the great beyond!”

Rep. Bono, who holds her late husband’s seat, agrees. She sent this e-mail to HOH:

“I always love hearing Sonny, especially at odd times, like standing in line for breakfast at the Cannon carryout. It can be bittersweet. Most of all it makes me feel that he is somehow watching over me. What was nice was that it was a powerful and personal thing and a kind staffer smiled at me and knew what I was feeling.”

Tough Times. In case you were wondering just how dismal the job market is on Capitol Hill, check out the Rayburn House Office Building bulletin board. A little yellow flier says it all:

“I need a job. Will pay $1,000 if you find me one. I have experience, education and enthusiasm.” Dollar signs line the border of the flier. At the bottom is a local telephone number.

HOH called the number and found a guy at wit’s end named Brian Rauer. He said he’s been looking for a job for two years, ever since he got his master’s of public policy at American University. At this point, he said, it’s worth it to him to fork over a grand to the first person who gets him a job on the Hill (working for a Democrat, that is).

Rauer said he has sent out “hundreds and hundreds, maybe even thousands” of résumés, to no avail. Of course, he has stiff competition, what with tons of staffers being displaced by a wave of Senators and House Members who are retiring, seeking other office or who have lost primary races.

Rauer interned during graduate school in Sen. Bob Graham’s office. He bumped into the retiring Florida Democrat the other day while job stumping on the Hill and asked the Senator if he had any leads. Graham said no. (But that was before Rauer came up with the idea to give $1,000 to the person who finds him or gives him a job.)

Rauer says he has gotten a few responses already from staffers who have called with leads and said they’re happy to help free of charge. HOH is happy to waive the $1,000 reward, too.

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