Gettin’ Jiggy With It

Posted November 19, 2004 at 6:50pm

A man’s feet can be a real deal-breaker. Gnarly toenails, bulging calluses, odiferous fungus. Yuck. And with all the running around that lawmakers do, you can bet plenty of the 535 have icky feet. But at least one among them takes special care to keep his feet smooth, clean and pretty.

That man, ladies and gentlemen, is Rep. Harold Ford Jr., the single, debonair 34-year-old Democratic legend from Tennessee.

[IMGCAP(1)] On Wednesday, an HOH informant saw Ford getting a pedicure at Toka Salon on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, apparently taking a break from the lame-duck session. The salon is in Ford’s neighborhood, near the National Archives.

Our spy says Ford was relaxing in his pedicure chair, alternately working his BlackBerry and cell phone as the pedicurist scraped dead skin off his feet.

Toka owner Teresa Yurt tells HOH that Ford is a “regular” in the salon. “He always gets pedicures,” she says. The Congressman is a runner, she explains, so “he has to take good care of his feet.”

Ford also plays hoops regularly — just about every day when Congress is in session, in fact, according to Carson Chandler, his press secretary. But Chandler was not aware of the Congressman’s pedicure fancy.

Meanwhile, the day after Ford got his treatment, former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D), who recently resigned his office, visited Tako Salon. McGreevey — who is gay, he’ll have you know — skipped the pedicure-manicure scene. He just got a haircut, according to the owner.

Yurt and her husband, Nuri Yurt, also own a Toka Salon in Georgetown on Prospect Street. Visiting celebs frequent that location. Nuri cut and styled Bo Derek’s hair a few weeks ago and got his picture taken with the unmistakable (and Republican) bombshell.

Other conservatives have taken advantage of the salon’s services, including columnist Robert Novak, who frequents the Toka Salon in Ford’s neighborhood. Novak, Yurt says, goes for massage.

More Ford Spottings. Ford was chilling poolside recently at the schwanky Delano hotel in Miami. He wore a bathing suit and Washington Redskins baseball cap, puffed on a stogie, and sipped a fruity frozen drink, according to an HOH informant.

Between cell phone calls, our source says, Ford chatted with a bikini-clad babe sitting with him. They shared a bowl of fruit.

The source did not get a good look at the Congressman’s feet.

Ford’s press secretary says the Congressman goes to Miami often to visit his father, former Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.), and his brother.

Animal House. Just because Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is becoming a big boy — he’ll be the new Minority Whip in the next Congress — doesn’t mean that he’s above living in the Animal House. Durbin tells HOH that he’s firmly committed to remaining a member of the infamous group house he shares with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) and George Miller (D-Calif.), the landlord-resident.

Durbin didn’t even have to use his newfound power to strong-arm anyone to get one of the house’s two coveted bedrooms. Durbin already has one, and Miller, through owner’s prerogative, has the other. Delahunt sleeps in the dining room and Schumer has a bed in the living room, where, Durbin joked, “Chuck can be closer to the people.”

Schumer tried to bribe Durbin for his bedroom as a condition for supporting his candidacy for Whip job, Durbin confided to HOH. Durbin said, in so many words, “Hell no.”

“He still supported me, but he’s never forgiven me for taking that bedroom,” Durbin said of Schumer.

The bribe came before Schumer knew that he himself would be entering the leadership ranks. Now that Schumer is going to chair the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee instead of running for governor of New York, the Animal House will have two Democratic leaders living under one roof.

Much of their training for leadership came from living in the house: Over the years, the abode has endured an infestation of crickets and rats as well as lawmakers. Durbin brags that he alone killed the rats, while his wimpy housemates cringed in fear.

Durbin says he’s killed eight of the rodents. (A few he clobbered with a golf club; the others he killed with traps.) But tough guy Schumer, let it be known, took care of the cricket infestation.

“If their record in defeating household pests is any indication, Senators Schumer and Durbin will make a strong leadership team,” says Schumer spokesman Blake Zeff. “Senator Durbin’s ability to vanquish rats is the stuff of legends, and let’s just say that crickets on D Street have learned the hard way not to mess with Senator Schumer again.”

Alumni of the Animal House include former Reps. Leon Panetta (D-Calif.) and Sam Gejdenson (D-Conn.). Other nicknames for the abode include the Little House on the Hill and the Democratic Club Basement.

Neighbors include a former House Member who is now director of central intelligence, Porter Goss (R-Fla.). Once, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) held a fundraiser at the Animal House. “People came out of morbid curiosity just to see what the place looked like,” Durbin says. The upside, he says, is that staffers cleaned the place up and Boxer left real food behind.

Durbin invited Sen.-elect Barak Obama (D-Ill.) to live in the house, but Obama, who is younger than the others, said he didn’t care to see “a bunch of guys in boxer shorts” wandering around his kitchen.

For the record, HOH has it on good authority that Schumer was in his underwear at 3 a.m. when he fought the crickets.

Dying Breed. While many Republicans have used the lame-duck session as an opportunity to kick Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) while he’s down, one kind GOP insider is lending a helping hand to one of the outgoing Minority Leader’s staffers.

Juleanna Glover Weiss, GOP communications strategist by day and socialite by night, was the first person to console Daschle Press Secretary Sarah Feinberg in the wee hours following Daschle’s defeat. Weiss, a vice president at the strategic communications firm Clark and Weinstock, sent Feinberg an e-mail asking for Feinberg’s résumé in order to pass it around town. Weiss already has been able to set up a few high-profile interviews for Feinberg.

It may sound surprising — considering that Weiss describes herself, somewhat jokingly, as “as right-wing as you can get” — but it wasn’t so shocking to Feinberg, a regular at Weiss’ wine-and-hors d’oeuvre bashes.

“Juleanna is the increasingly rare person in Washington for whom friendship and class trump partisanship,” Feinberg told HOH. “It’s not that Juleanna isn’t devoted to her political principles, because she absolutely is. It’s that she understands that you are too, and that political differences are not always the most important thing.”

Weiss, who worked for John Ashcroft in the Senate, calls Sarah “super smart and kind — it would be a shame for the town to lose her. If the Republicans had lost, I’d have been ready with the direct faxes and e-mails for every headhunter in town. The only thing worse than losing an election is the friends who forget to help afterwards.”

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