Most Likely to Be Ostracized

Posted April 12, 2005 at 6:25pm

Let’s put it this way: If the House Republican Conference were a schoolyard, Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.) might get more than his lunch money stolen.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) led the pack of bullies by calling Shays a “jerk” for saying that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) should resign. Now comes a flood of anger at Shays.

[IMGCAP(1)] One senior House GOP leadership aide told HOH, “I think most people just consider the source when they see a comment

like that and discredit it — ’cause it’s coming from Chris Shays.”

A senior House Republican Member went further — much further. “Chris Shays is loyal all right. His loyalty just happens to lie with George Soros and The New York Times editorial board, instead of the Republican Party.”

But the Member didn’t stop there, saying, “It makes me wonder why [Shays] even bothers coming to the Conference meetings when he could be spending that time doing what he loves most — preening before the TV cameras and doing the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s] dirty work.”

Shays said he spoke his mind and is “willing to accept the consequences.” Godspeed if he dares set foot in the Republican Conference meeting today.

Funny? In Washington? Hard as it is to imagine, there really are some funny folks — funny ha-ha — in this buttoned-down capital. But it seems that the Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest is having a tough time wooing Washington humorists to perform this year, the contest’s 12th.

“Where are all the funniest politicians?” asked Richard Siegel, CEO and founder of the Funniest Celebrity in Washington Charitable Fund Inc. “They’re here. What are they afraid of?”

Siegel says he tried to get Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to do standup this year. Rummy said no. Former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), a genuinely funny man, won’t do it. “I’ve asked him year after year,” Siegel said. No dice from Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) either. Not even Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

He insists that at the Funniest Celebrity contest, the audience is supportive. “I know standup is scary, but there’s no heckling. There’s no groaning,” Siegel said. No rotten egg or tomato throwing in this crowd, he promises.

Siegel is now trying to convince outgoing Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, one of the more dour Bushies, to participate. “He really needs to lighten his image before going to the World Bank,” Siegel told HOH, adding that the contest worked wonders for Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (D-Conn.) image when he performed in the past.

Siegel is also trying to recruit New York Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel (who is funny), and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean (who will be hilarious if he does The Scream again).

And let’s not forget Mr. Windsurf. “Not that he’s going to be funny, but we’ve invited John Kerry,” Siegel says.

Among the handful of confirmed participants this year is Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who once recited the Gettysburg Address as Donald Duck. This year, Kucinich will serve as a judge.

Other committed participants include Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist. Siegel hopes to get Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), who sits on the board of Bread for the World Institute, which is this year’s charity recipient.

The Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest will be held June 8 at 7 p.m. at the Mayflower Hotel.

Doles Duking Over Nuking. The way the story played out Tuesday, you’d have thought the current Sen. Dole (R-N.C.) and the former Sen. Dole (R-Kan.) were giving each other the silent treatment at dinner, sleeping in separate beds, slamming doors and waging war over their view of the “nuclear option.”

Bob Dole, taking to the airwaves to promote a new memoir, said on National Public Radio on Tuesday that Senate GOP leaders should “be very careful … before you start tinkering with the rules” on ending filibusters. His urging of caution came a month after his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole, sent out a fundraising pitch for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (which she chairs) urging support for the “nuclear option,” which would require only a simple majority of votes to end a filibuster of a judicial nominee.

After Mr. Dole made his radio comments, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee whipped off a press release saying: “Bob Dole warns Senate GOP on moving forward with Nuclear Option.” The DSCC went on to say, “Dole is the latest Republican to come out against the Nuclear Option.”

The NRSC said that the DSCC, and ensuing press reports, blew Dole’s comments out of proportion. “The press is really butchering their coverage of the whole judicial nomination issue,” NRSC spokesman Brian Nick said.

Nick insisted the Doles are completely on the same page when it comes to the nuke option. He said his boss “is pleased that her husband supports Sen. [Bill] Frist’s last resort option” requiring a simple majority vote to end filibusters of judicial nominees.

Mike Marshall, a spokesman for Bob Dole, said his boss would support the nuclear option only as “a last resort. And he assumes that Frist has the same opinion.” It remains to be seen whether Frist, the Senate Majority Leader from Tennessee, really considers the nuclear option a last resort.

The DSCC stood by its comment that Bob Dole opposes the nuclear option. DSCC spokesman Phil Singer pointed to an interview with USA Today in which Mr. Dole defended the filibuster as a way “to protect the rights of the minority. It’s not just a Democratic tool when Republicans are in charge or a Republican tool when Democrats are in charge.”

At press time, we heard that all was calm in the Dole household, notwithstanding subtle differences over the nuclear option.

Take My Senate Seat … Please. Apparently Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) can quit her day job if she wants to.

We hear she was a huge hit Monday night at the Arena Stage’s Congressional celebrity event. Landrieu was part of a confab with Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Rep. John Tanner (D-Tenn.) called the Bipartisaniacs. They all played superheroes and wore capes bearing their party affiliation and state on the back.

One of the professional Arena actors asked Landrieu during the skit, “Mary Landrieu, I never knew you had a secret identity.” Landrieu, hamming it up for the audience, responded, “That’s right, behind that mild-mannered exterior hides the human dynamo Delta Woman.” The line brought the house down.

“Mary Landrieu was the hit of the night,” said fellow Louisiana native Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report.

Arena Stage spokeswoman Denise Garrity agreed: “She had a tremendous amount of stage presence. She really stole the show.”

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