Mattress Stuffers

Posted March 14, 2005 at 6:44pm

Four Democratic Members of Congress and the president of the AARP have a big shopping spree ahead of them: They all received $50 gift certificates to Mattress Warehouse, but not from anyone who really cares to sleep with them.

The gift certificates were sent by the grass-roots group Americans for Prosperity, which views the Democratic Members’ opposition to personal savings accounts as unwise and backward-thinking. The group’s president, Nancy Pfotenhauer, said, “That’s like saving for retirement by

[IMGCAP(1)] stuffing money in a mattress instead of wisely investing in safe, diversified index funds over 30 or 40 years.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was one of the lucky ones who received a Mattress Warehouse gift certificate. Her spokesman, Brendan Daly, said somebody’s going to need that mattress if Republicans succeed in dismantling Social Security.

“Americans sleep well at night because they know that Social Security will be there for them in their retirement or if tragedy should strike,” Daly said. “The Republican privatization plan would eliminate that peace of mind, replacing a guaranteed benefit with a guaranteed gamble. The best mattress in the world is not worth that.”

Flip Side. In the meantime, an opposing group in the Social Security battle, Americans United to Protect Social Security, is delivering a bottle of Andre champagne to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today.

The group is thanking Graham for his recent comments in The Washington Post suggesting that the notion of personal savings accounts be put on hold. Graham was quoted in the Post last week saying, “Let’s have a conversation along these lines: Let’s make a commitment to permanently find solvency, and see where we go. Set the accounts aside for a moment. Let’s see if we can find solvency.”

Americans United to Protect Social Security is having too much fun interpreting the Senator’s comments in its favor. “Please accept this bottle of champagne as a token of our esteem for your effort to move the dialogue away from privatization and towards the issue of solvency — which privatization does not address,” wrote the group’s Brad Woodhouse.

Mistaken Identity. When pundit Mark Shields was mistakenly identified as political comedian Mark Russell in a Washington Post photo taken at the Gridiron dinner over the weekend, no one laughed harder than Russell. Shields is a member of the storied and prestigious Gridiron Club; Russell is not.

So piano man Russell made sure to rub it in his friend’s face when Shields and his wife, Anne, showed up at the Russells’ annual St. Patrick’s Day party Sunday night. There was a sign on their front door that said: “Shields Residence.” Wife Ali Shields greeted Russell, saying, “Welcome home, honey.”

The partygoers — including Sen. John Dingell (D-Mich.), Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the Irish ambassador and many a veteran journalist — also had a heyday with the case of mistaken identity.

“Hey, Mark, you don’t look anything like your picture,” Washingtonian editor-at-large writer Chuck Conconi said. Everyone, it seemed, had something to say. And Shields told HOH he got a “rash of phone calls” from people he hadn’t heard from in years.

Shields, one of the last surviving liberal pundits, joked that Russell had better hire former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) as his personal injury lawyer for the confusion. Russell told Shields, “We’re both victims of identity theft.”

Shields, however, despite the humility of being mistaken for someone else after 40 years as a bigwig in this town, said he was at least glad it was his friend Russell. “I’m honored and complimented to be confused for Mark Russell. He really is a genius,” Shields said.

UAW Disses Marines. The United Auto Workers don’t want Marines parking their Eurotrash cars in union parking lots. The UAW International told members of the 1st Battalion 24th Marines in Detroit over the weekend that they cannot park in the union lot if they drive foreign cars or display pro-President Bush bumper stickers, according to The Detroit News.

“While reservists certainly have the right to drive non-union made vehicles and display bumper stickers touting the most anti-worker, anti-union president since the 1920s, that doesn’t mean they have the right to park in a lot owned by the members of the UAW,” the union said in a statement.

The import auto industry is hoping word of this story is spread far and wide on Capitol Hill. Ed Patru, the communications director for the American International Auto Dealers, said such behavior from the unions just goes to show why imports, which his industry calls international nameplates, are selling better than domestics. “We don’t kick Marines out of our parking lots, and we don’t care who you vote for,” he joked.

The UAW and the international auto industry could clash on Capitol Hill this week as unions continue lobbying in favor of keeping a 25 percent tariff on foreign-made pickup trucks and the foreign auto industry fights like nails to abolish it.

Batty Over Steroids. Add columnist George Will to the growing list of baseball lovers who are mad at House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.) for dragging Major League Baseball players before his committee to testify about steroid abuse.

The title of Will’s column on Monday was “A Committee on Steroids.” In his column, he referred to the panel as “The Committee for the Dissemination of Great Messages to Kids,” a reference to Davis’ stated purpose of the hearings: to educate kids that steroid abuse is uncool.

And add the White House to the growing list of those keeping a safe distance from the hearings. White House spokesman Scott McClellan had a lukewarm response when asked about the president’s feelings on the matter of Davis and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) issuing subpoenas to the players. He said, “That’s a Congressional matter.”

Other newspaper sports pages across the country have likened the Government Reform Committee’s scheduled hearings to McCarthyism. Sports commentator Tony Kornheiser, on his radio show last week, called Congressman Davis “a dope.” Davis’ spokesman, Robert White, took the insult in stride, telling HOH, “You must have misheard Mr. Kornheiser. He didn’t call the chairman a ‘dope.’ He was saying that we’re investigating dope.”

And if you believe that, maybe you’ve been smoking some dope.

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