The One Who Got Away

Posted April 25, 2005 at 6:34pm

Monday’s Congressional fishing trip on the Potomac River got wet and wild. While he was perhaps not the wildest, nobody got wetter than Rep. Clay Shaw (R-Fla.), who was fly-fishing with his wife, Emilie, when their little rowboat listed to one side and — SPLASH! — the Congressman fell overboard.

A Roll Call photographer on the scene recorded the episode for posterity. His photograph shows Shaw in the water trying to climb out of the drink as his wife steadies the boat, laughing riotously. (She told HOH in a

telephone interview later that she was “not laughing intentionally” — as in, she was laughing “with” her poor husband, not “at” him — though she was still howling when she got on the phone.)

“That water was chilly!” exclaimed Rep. Shaw, who was not laughing nearly as hard as his wife.

The Congressman, who turned 66 this month, managed to hoist his soaking wet body back in the boat, which was nearly full of water and sinking. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) pulled up alongside the Shaws’ boat, helped the Congressman back on board and took him to shore. Mrs. Shaw was saved by another boat.

While wimpier fishermen might have called it a day after falling into the chilly water and not catching a single fish, Shaw, the sportsman of sportsmen, drove home, changed into dry clothes and went back for more.

Shaw explained to HOH later that he is being inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale next month. “It’s true, I really am,” Shaw said. While other inductees have given their bathing suits and swim trunks to the ISHF, Shaw suggested, “Maybe I’ll give them my Levis.”

Monday’s little spill during the Congressional Casting Call — an event sponsored by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation — was not the first for the Shaws. Last time, it was Mrs. Shaw who fell in the water, during her first time fly fishing in North Carolina. Even then, she said, “I just started laughing.”

The most amusing part of the whole episode may be that the Florida Republican was planning to keep his Potomac diving experience a secret from his staff. When HOH called his press secretary, Gail Gitcho, to ask her about the fishing expedition gone awry, she said, “What? This is the first I’ve heard of it. And he’s called twice today.” Gitcho put HOH on speaker phone so other staffers could hear the story.

When the Congressman arrived back at the office, she stopped him and said, “Hey, Mr. Shaw. You look dry.”

“Why? What did you hear?” Shaw said.

“That you fell out of your boat this morning and that Roll Call has pictures,” the brave spokeswoman said.

“Nothing’s sacred anymore,” Shaw sighed.

Rep. Matchmaker. Listen up, all you Congressional staffers out there looking for love: If Match.com and your cheesy pickup lines aren’t working, we’ve found the perfect matchmaker.

Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.) recently set up his legislative director, Brandi McBride, with his computer guy, Michael Lowell, who works for House Information Resources. The first time Lowell, 29, stopped by Davis’ office to work on the computers, the Congressman immediately thought the young man would be a good match for McBride. “I think you guys need to date,” McBride recalls her boss saying.

McBride, 26, was seeing someone else. But as time went on and Lowell stopped by the office more often McBride says she thought, “He’s really cute. And he was really, really funny. And really sweet. And he really started to grow on me. I thought, ‘Maybe Lincoln is right.’”

And pretty soon that other guy was out of the picture and lucky Lowell was in, especially after McBride got jealous watching Congressman Davis try to set Lowell up with other young women in the office. “I said, ‘No way, I’m not missing out,” McBride told HOH.

Now, a year and a half later, thanks to Congressman Matchmaker, McBride and Lowell are engaged to be married. Lowell, one of the classier guys HOH has ever heard of, called the Congressman and arranged for McBride to be gone from work for a few days around Easter so he could take his gal on a surprise Carnival cruise from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, where he would pop the question.

Several days before the cruise, Lowell flew to Nashville, rented a car and drove to McBride’s parents’ home to properly ask for her hand in marriage. (Lowell fibbed to McBride and told her he had gone to watch his beloved North Carolina Tar Heels play in the NCAA tournament.)

Once on the ship, in the middle of the ocean, after they had pulled far away from port in Key West, Fla., Lowell asked McBride up on the top deck if she would marry him. She said yes.

The Congressman is touting this engagement as one of his proudest accomplishments.

“Michael with his great character and commitment and Brandi with her intelligence and good looks — it was only natural that Cupid’s arrows would pierce their hearts,” Davis told HOH. “I’m pleased that I was first to recognize these combinations and quickly gave my enthusiastic encouragement and said, ‘OK, kids — get her done.” (The Congressman apparently yells, “OK, kids — get her done” many times a day to his staff.)

Screaming, But Not for Ice Cream. Who would have ever thought that a Dairy Queen in the middle of nowhere would become ground zero for the Senate’s debate over judicial nominees?

Yet it’s true: About 30 conservative Christians showed up at the Dairy Queen in Westminster, Colo., to protest Democratic action to block conservative judicial nominees. The Dairy Queen is owned by Hope Salazar, whose husband, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), has been sparring with conservative Christian political activist James Dobson of the Colorado Springs-based group Focus on the Family over the explosive issue of the minority party filibustering judges.

Salazar is fit to be tied that Dobson supporters have targeted his wife’s business. He and Mrs. Salazar were about 80 miles south of Westminster driving back from their ranch when the Dairy Queen employees phoned to report the protest, which Salazar called “outrageous and un-American.”