Penalty: Flag Down

Posted March 4, 2005 at 6:44pm

An HOH informant overheard Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) telling Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) in flowery language unbecoming of a Senator (though not up to Vice President Cheney’s standards of floweriness) that, basically, he doesn’t care about revitalizing distressed neighborhoods.

As Allen and Roberts were walking toward the Senate subway, our informant heard Allen say, “I don’t give a shit about Community


[IMGCAP(1)] Development Block Grants. Virginia doesn’t see any of that money.” Such grants are being squeezed in President Bush’s budget, to the alarm of many urban advocates and some Members of Congress.


Did Allen really say that? Not exactly, according to Allen’s press secretary, David Snepp, who snapped (in good humor), “Your source is wrong, as usual.” Ouch, Dave-O!


Snepp said the Senators were talking about football, not Community Development Block Grants. And no bad words were uttered, he said.


“What Sen. Allen actually said was that ‘I don’t give a Dip about immunity for those who chop block Darnerien McCants. Virginia doesn’t think that’s very funny,’” Snepp deadpanned.


Oh, now we get it. Shit, dip. Block grants, chop blocks. Community, immunity. Funny, money. We can see how our informant totally fouled that up.


Schadenfreude. Sure, many Republicans are cheering the demise of legendary CBS News anchor Dan Rather. But Rep. Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) is going so far as to throw a party Wednesday to celebrate Rather’s last night on the job. In fact, it’s a fundraiser for his 2006 campaign. The party is called “C’est La Vie, Comrade Rather.”


“We’re going to celebrate the liberation of the airways of the liberal lock that we think they’ve had,” Feeney told HOH. “We’ll have some fun celebrating the end of an era.”


Tickets to the party, which will be held at the Capitol Hill Club from 5 to 7 p.m., cost $100 per person, or $50 for Congressional staff. “We’re not looking to make a lot of money, we’re just looking to have some fun,” said Jason Roe, Feeney’s chief of staff.


Feeney said “on a serious note” that the party will mark the end of an era in which basically “one philosophy dominated news that 90 percent of Americans used to get.”


On a more “fun” note, he said, paying guests will have access to an open bar and can watch Rather’s last evening newscast with drink in hand — “but only if you drink out of your left hand in honor of Rather.”


Feeney said he plans to have an awards ceremony at the party, too. He’ll take nominations for several categories, including: the “Dan Rather Professionalism in Journalism” award; the “Michael Moore Patriotism” award; “Robert Byrd’s Cultural Sensitivity to Minorities” award; and “Howard Dean’s Understated Eloquence” award.


“The response has been overwhelming just through word of mouth,” he said. Among Members who have told Feeney’s office that they’ll attend are: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.); Eric Cantor (R-Va.); John Boehner (R-Ohio); Mike Conaway (R-Texas); Bobby Jindal (R-La.); Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.); and Bob Ney (R-Ohio).


Quick Poll. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) has removed a poll on his Web site that didn’t go his way.


The question in his online poll asked, “Do you support the creation of voluntary Personal Retirement Accounts as a part of Social Security reform?” Answering yes were 9.2 percent of respondents; 90.8 percent clicked “No, Social Security should not be reformed to include Personal Retirement Accounts for Individuals.”


Asked about the results of the poll, a Santorum spokeswoman said the Senator switches the polls so “visitors can register their opinions on various issues.” She had no comment on what the Senator thought of the overwhelming response opposing personal accounts.


Bard of the Hill. Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) will be taming a shrew tonight while Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) puts up a good fight in the War of the Roses. Both men will be major players — on stage, that is, wearing Elizabethan costumes.


Calvert and Stearns are performing at the Shakespeare Theatre’s annual Congressional night, known as Will on the Hill — a look at life on Capitol Hill through the eyes of the Bard, and a glimpse at politics and policy as scripted by Shakespeare.


In his role tonight, for example, Stearns depicts what a Member should say to an agency head to interrupt him during an appropriations hearing: “Be you silent and attentive, too, for he that interrupts me shall not live.” That pearl of wisdom comes from the Earl of Warwick in Part 3 of “Henry VI.”


Calvert steps into the role of Petruchio, the tamer from Taming of the Shrew, who said: “Snip and nip and cut and flish and flash.” That’s what Democrats in the Bard’s day would say about budget cuts, according to Shakespeare Theatre publicist Liza Holtmeier.


Calvert told HOH he’s looking forward to his debut as a Shakespearean actor. He doesn’t have a big role, but as he put it, “Brevity is the soul of wit. … That’s why they only gave me three lines.”


Other local celebrities scheduled to perform tonight include: former House Appropriations Chairman Bob Livingston (R-La.); former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson; ABC newsman Sam Donaldson; ABC newswoman Cokie Roberts; and Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball.”


Sorry, Cappy. HOH misspelled the name of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s longtime buddy and finance chairman Cappy McGarr. (HOH spelled Cappy with a “K” in last Thursday’s column.) Ever jovial and understanding, McGarr said, “What can I expect with a name like Cappy?” McGarr still serves as chairman of Daschle’s political action committee, DASHPAC, which stands for Dedicated Americans for the Senate and House and is named for Daschle’s late father, “Dash” Daschle.


Not Laughing About Rather. While he doesn’t excuse Dan Rather for his mistake over the infamous Air National Guard story on President Bush, Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) thinks Republicans have demonized Rather. And he thinks the White House set Rather up. “I think there was an attempt to set up somebody in the media. Unfortunately [CBS] bit,” Hinchey told HOH.


Hinchey said Rather’s forced departure over his story based on forged documents is part of a much bigger attack on the First Amendment. “The integrity and veracity of the American information distribution system, the media, is being put into serious jeopardy as a result of these flagrant actions which have been taken by the White House … which likely entails the breaking of the law in a very serious way,” Hinchey said.


He cited James Guckert, a conservative who was given access to the White House press briefings on a daily basis under the fake name Jeff Gannon, payments by the Bush administration to columnists to tout White House policy, and the Valerie Plame incident in which “someone in the White House” revealed the CIA’s agent’s name to the media.


Hinchey said instead of holding hearings on these issues, the House GOP leadership “has become a lap dog for the administration.”


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