Ho Ho Ho

Posted December 10, 2004 at 6:22pm

Senators are kind of like regular people when it comes to gift giving. Some give their spouses nice gifts and, well, some just don’t.

Sen.-elect Richard Burr (R-N.C.), for example, fits into the latter category. He’s one of those men who gives his wife practical gifts, things she needs or things she can use — to clean, to cook, to live. One year he gave her frying pans. “That didn’t go over so well,”

[IMGCAP(1)] Burr told HOH. So the next year he wised up and got wife Brooke something really romantic — a new front door for their house in Winston-Salem. Oh honey, you shouldn’t have!

“You have to have a sense of humor in my family,” Burr says. But Mrs. Burr still wasn’t laughing the next Christmas when the Congressman got her a new faucet for the bathroom sink. Burr says he had convinced his boys, aged 15 and 16 at the time, that the only thing Mom wanted for Christmas that year was a new faucet.

“They were so proud going in and giving it to her,” Burr remembers. “They were rather shocked” at the reception they got.

This year could be different, as Burr realizes the joke is wearing thin. “I think I’ve probably run out of any chits that I might have saved up.” To redeem himself from the front door, frying-pan and bathroom-sink debacles and to celebrate his Senate election victory, Burr is giving his family a trip to Nassau in the Bahamas for Christmas.

Here is what other Senators are giving their spouses this holiday:

Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) doesn’t want to ruin the surprise for Jill, but said it won’t be frying pans. “My wife’s view is you cannot give anything that has utilitarian value. You cannot give anything that is not a surprise. It has to be shiny, sexy or soft.”

Outgoing Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) is giving his wife, Linda, an iPod so she can listen to music while she works out; and the couple plans to purchase a new piece of artwork together.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) is giving his wife, Laurie, speakers for her mini iPod for “legally downloaded music.” (Coleman has railed against illegal music file sharing.)

Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) thinks he’ll give his wife, Hadassah, a trip someplace nice for Hanukkah and added, “And I hope I can convince her to let me go with her.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), with typically wry humor said his wife, Loretta, is “begging for a new ironing board.” Pause. “I’m kidding!” After getting her many gifts that he never saw again, except for that necklace he bought her in Africa — “she liked that, she still wears it” — Durbin and his wife now give to charity each Christmas. But since Mrs. Durbin likes cookbooks, the Senator says (stop reading Mrs. Durbin) he’ll probably also get her a new vegetarian cookbook.

Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) won’t let on what he’s getting her this year but one year he got his wife, Frances, a power drill.

“It wasn’t very romantic but … she liked it,” he said.

But he’s most proud of the ring he gave her one year with a diamond that belonged to the Senator’s grandfather. DeWine had the diamond reset with eight tiny diamonds on the band — four on each side of the grandfather’s diamond — to represent each of their eight children.

Can You Hear Me Now? It’s common for freshman Senators (even ones who served on the other side of the Capitol) to feel a little out of the loop when they first arrive. The aforementioned Burr hasn’t even started his new job yet and already he has experienced that completely-and-utterly-out-of-touch feeling.

Burr, whose temporary office is in the basement of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, was working away last Tuesday, waiting to be called for the House vote on the intelligence bill. And waiting and waiting … and waiting. Finally, he got a funny, “Twilight Zone” feeling, as if he had lost touch with the rest of the planet.

He called the House GOP Cloakroom to see what was up — only to find out that the vote had occurred more than an hour earlier.

“It wasn’t until 8 p.m. that I figured out BlackBerries and cell phones don’t work in the basement of Dirksen,” Burr said. Luckily, he learned that lesson on his last House vote instead of on his first Senate vote.

Cat and Mouse. The 24-year-old formerly anonymous Unemployed Kerry Staffer who was “outed” — more aptly, further publicized — by another former Kerry staffer hopes the job offers will start rolling in. Clare Gannon hit the blogosphere with a bang last week with her blog, UnemployedKerryStaffer.com, featuring clever musings on a day in the life of a young, dejected true believer searching for meaning in life after election defeat.

So far, though, folks have written to her offering her such things as dinner at Chipotle, $10 to catalog CDs or $18 and two-thirds a bottle of Jack Daniels in exchange for the rights to the kid’s screenplay. (Though Gannon may have already missed out on the $18 and a-third drunk JD offer because, as the writer explained, “me and Jack ain’t got all day.”)

The outer himself, Tom Matzzie, the director of online operations at the AFL-CIO, offered to buy Gannon either dinner at Cashion’s Eat Place in Adams Morgan or a bag of cat food so Gannon will no longer have to sell her stereo to feed the cat. As an Internet expert, it didn’t take Matzzie long to figure out Gannon was the real UKS. He says he hesitated at first but then decided everyone could use a chuckle. And as far as we can tell, UKS is delighted to have been found out.

HOH thinks Matzzie hopes to get a date out of his sleuthing, too. Although he never met Gannon over at the Kerry campaign, where Matzzie was the campaign’s Internet guru, he thinks Gannon “looks cute on her Web site.”

But the real question is not who will feed Gannon (or her cat) or who will date her or even who will employ her. Adored by her former male colleagues, Gannon will be just fine. The real question is: Who is behind this former low-level Kerry staffer’s brilliant Internet publicity scheme?

“I have a silent partner,” Gannon said. The biggest gift her silent partner has given her is the name of the blog. Otherwise, Gannon says, it would have just been: ClareGannonIsOutOfWorkAndBored.com. But Gannon, hyping the publicity even further, will not reveal who her silent partner is just yet.

Bah Humbug. No, that’s not soon-to-be-former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) playing Scrooge in the picture you see in the print edition of Roll Call.

Edwards took little Jack, 4, and Emma Claire, 6, to Ford’s Theatre on Dec. 4 to see a special matinee performance of “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.” Apparently Tiny Tim, played by actor Kent Jenkins, is a big fan of the would-be-but-won’t-be vice president. When the Senator and his adorable tow-headed kids were taken backstage, just about everybody in the cast clamored for pictures with the Edwardses. Edwards’ wife Elizabeth, who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer, did not go to the play.

Murky Employment Update. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has rehired most of her staff after asking each of them to resign two weeks ago. Murkowski’s spokesman, Chuck Kleeschulte, says “a couple of people will not be coming back, but the vast majority is on board.”

Murkowski demanded letters of resignation last month from her entire staff as part of a reorganization of her office. Since she originally was appointed to her seat by her father, Gov. Frank Murkowski (R), Lisa Murkowski inherited her father’s former Senate aides.

Getting to Know You. Aides on Capitol Hill, at the White House and in the Homeland Security Department are reading up to get ready for the arrival of the former head of the New York Police Department Bernard Kerik, President Bush’s choice to head Homeland Security. Kerik has written two books: “The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice,” which features Kerik on the cover holding a police shield, and “In the Line of Duty.” As one senior level staffer at DHS said, staff are ordering the books# to prep for his confirmation hearings.

The staffer also adds of Kerik’s management team, “This team will be extremely Giuliani heavy, thank God. They need to kick some internal ass over here!” The aide says upper management at TSA has enjoyed a culture in which they’ve been able to “hide in the bureaucracy.”