The Canoodle Cabal

Posted October 27, 2004 at 6:41pm

Lawyers at C-SPAN are miffed about the devious Democratic operatives who created the Web site thecanoodle.com, dedicated solely to an intimate moment in time between Reps. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) and Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), who, according to the Web site, were canoodling on the House floor.[IMGCAP(1)]

The site kindly provides a phonetic pronunciation of the word and its definition: ca·noo·dle, v. To engage in caressing, petting or lovemaking.

Before we even attempt to answer the question of whether Harris and Renzi were, in fact, canoodling, let’s first address the question of whether thecanoodle.com poached C-SPAN footage inappropriately, as an aide to one of the alleged canoodlers suggested. (Patience, patience.)

For this we turn to Bruce Collins, C-SPAN’s corporate vice president and general counsel. Collins says that while C-SPAN owns the cameras, the resulting footage of House and Senate action is in the public domain. It belongs to Congress and, therefore, the people. Anyone can use it, much like the Congressional Record.

The problem, he said, lies in using the C-SPAN logo, which is a legal trademark.

“They obviously took it off our screen,” Collins said. “We have a registered exclusive trademark in C-SPAN. To the extent that that confuses people, we don’t like it.”

Collins tried to reach the owners of thecanoodle.com, to no avail. It may be impossible. Turns out, the Web site was created through a company that allows people to set up Web sites anonymously. “I cannot find out who the owner of thecanoodle.com is,” Collins said.

The Web site, which crashed from having so many folks trying to view the Harris-Renzi scene, shows C-SPAN footage of Harris and Renzi sitting next to each other on the House floor during consideration of the 9/11 commission recommendations debate. They whisper to each other; Harris giggles, touches Renzi’s arm and, at one point, throws her head back with laughter.

Spokesmen for Harris and Renzi (both of whom are married to other people) object to the characterization of their bosses’ videotaped chit-chat as canoodling. Renzi spokesman Matt Ash said, “They shared an exchange on the House floor. To suggest anything more is offensive and wrong.”

Likewise, Garrison Courtney, a spokesman for Harris, declared, “They’re friends. It’s nothing beyond that.” And he warned: “I think it’s dangerous for the Democratic people to insinuate that.”

In a entirely unrelated Harris incident, a man accused of trying to run over the Congresswoman with his Cadillac was arrested in Sarasota, Fla., on Wednesday. Barry Seltzer was charged with aggravated assault after he nearly mowed down Harris and some supporters while they were campaigning on a street corner.

“I was exercising my political expression,” Seltzer told police, according to police reports. Harris told police she was afraid for her life.

The Rules. As someone out there once said, rules were made to be broken. Or at least challenged. At the National Republican Senatorial Committee, campaign-weary staffers who have forgotten how to order a cocktail — much less eat a homemade meal — are not pleased about Rule No. 2 at their workplace.

That would be the No Drinking on Election Night rule.

Resentment over Rule No. 2 was presented to HOH by a clever source whom we presume to be a disgruntled NRSC staffer using the e-mail address: dontbendanelbow@evenifcoorswins.com. The reference, of course, is to the hotly contested Colorado Senate race between Republican (and brewer) Pete Coors and Democrat Ken Salazar.

The author of the e-mail notes: “Nice way to reward staff for all their hard work to retain the majority. Particularly ironic considering one of the top R Senate candidates is a beer mogul.”

Attached was a portion of a memo that NRSC Executive Director Jay Timmons sent to his staff inviting them to join in the “festivities of election night here at the NRSC” by taking a minute to “grab a snack and a coke in the Majority Room and say hello to our invited guests.”

Those guests, incidentally, will be happily swilling bevvies while NRSC staffers observing Rule No. 2, sip their juicy juice and co-colas. NRSC spokesman Dan Allen said while guests will be served beer and wine as they watch the returns, staff will not be allowed to partake. “Typically the staff is not slamming down beers on Election Night. … Everybody in the building will be working,” he said.

It’s reasonable that Timmons doesn’t want his staff falling down drunk in front of the partygoers, including Senators. He said he wants them “sharp and focused.” Quoting his boss’ namesake father, former Redskins Coach George Allen, Timmons said, “Celebrate after victory!” adding, “I can assure you we will.”

If booze or the lack thereof is becoming an ideological deal breaker for NRSC staff, perhaps they’ll be glad to know that spirits will be flowing over at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

“It’ll be champagne all around over here when we take back the Senate. And since the reason the NRSC is not drinking is because they are out of money, we’ll send Sen. [George] Allen [R-Va.] a few bottles of Wild Irish Rose,” jokes DSCC spokesman Brad Woodhouse.

Bush Campaign Web Woes. It would be an easy mistake to make and, unfortunately for the Bush campaign, plenty of people have made it. Many people intending to send e-mails — some of them secretive and highly personal — to staffers at the Bush campaign have instead been inadvertently sending them to an apparent Bush enemy who created the Web site www.georgewbush.org. That’s just a three-letter suffix away from the official Bush campaign Web site, www.georgewbush.com.

Lots of GOP campaign operatives at the local, state and federal level around the country who meant to send e-mails to So-and-So@georgewbush.com accidentally sent those e-mails to So-and-So@georgewbush.org. The creator of the spoof Web site, who registered the site under the name John Wooden of Brooklyn, N.Y., took a stream of the e-mails and posted them on the site, which rants on everything from President Bush’s attire and religious faith to policies and his mannerisms.

Among the e-mails posted on the site is one from a Bush-Cheney field representative in Washington state. The field rep sent an e-mail to other Bush-Cheney aides that included a Reuters photo of Bush walking with his daughter Barbara (the “good” one, as opposed to the “wild one”). The subject line was “I think” and the text of the e-mail said, “She and I would look good together …”

One of the recipients of the e-mail responded by saying, “Just stay away from Jenna or things could get ugly.” Signed: RJK.

Wooden, the purported creator of the Bush-Cheney spoof site, could not be reached. The Bush campaign declined to comment, although one aide acknowledged that the campaign is aware of the prank and is not amused.

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