Feet First

Posted May 13, 2005 at 6:35pm

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) went on what turned into a very wild shopping spree Friday afternoon.

With Congressional business wrapped up for the week, Frist went shoe shopping downtown at Allen-Edmonds on Connecticut Avenue Northwest and wound up getting accosted by about 30 protesters wielding signs and shouting, “Hands off our Social Security!”

More people showed up just to watch the demonstration. And before long, several police cars arrived, along with an officer who slapped a parking ticket on Frist’s government SUV.

Brad Woodhouse and his gang at Americans United to Protect Social Security, which is located near the Allen-Edmonds store, spotted Frist going into the shop. They quickly grabbed their signs, ran downstairs and sprung into action.

Woodhouse, the group’s executive director, said Frist walked out onto the sidewalk, in his stockinged feet, to talk to the protesters. “He asked who we were with and what side of the debate we’re on,” Woodhouse told HOH, adding, “I thought it was obvious, we were protesting him.”

Woodhouse explained to the Majority Leader that his group opposes privatization. Frist assured the protesters he did not want to cut benefits, either. But he said he does “support the president’s plan,” Woodhouse said.

“It was not a nasty exchange by any stretch of the imagination,” Woodhouse said. “He thought it was funny.”

And Woodhouse thought it was really funny when Frist’s black SUV got a parking ticket. Frist probably did not, but his office declined to comment on the entire scene.

Feet Second, Too. Capitol Hill’s version of “Cinderella” played out much like the real fairy tale, except without the fairy godmother. (And instead of a pumpkin carriage, it was a big, beefy police officer who carried House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to safety. And instead of a glamorous ball, it was a full-scale security evacuation.)

HOH already has brought you the story of how Pelosi lost one of her high-heel shoes in Wednesday’s mayhem. Now we bring you the tale of the prince who found her slipper, freshman Rep. Dave Reichert, and how he identified its rightful owner.

The Washington Republican, a tough former sheriff who helped nab the infamous Green River killer, isn’t the kind of guy you’d typically see running with a pink slipper in his hand. But after finding a shoe in a stairwell, he ran with it through the Capitol and outside for three blocks. Once away from the Capitol, Reichert said, “I just kind of wandered around looking for a woman with a missing a shoe. … I was looking for someone in pink because the shoe was pink.”

Finding no one, Reichert took the shoe with him back to his office once Capitol Police gave the OK to return to work.

Later that afternoon, in Seattle, Reichert’s daughter was watching television and saw that Pelosi had lost her shoe during the evacuation. “My daughter thought it was funny so she e-mailed my wife,” Reichert said. His wife, Julie, then sent an e-mail to the Congressman’s BlackBerry saying, “Did you hear Nancy Pelosi lost her shoe?”

“I said, ‘Are you serious?’” Reichert said.

Reichert had just been on the radio, doing an interview on the evacuation with radio host Dave Ross, whom Reichert defeated in the 2004 election. The missing shoe had been a hot topic of the interview.

“I called Dave back and said, ‘Guess whose shoe I have? Nancy Pelosi’s!’ He just absolutely roared,” Reichert said.

The next day, Reichert played his role as Prince Charming to the hilt. He showed up at Pelosi’s pen-and-pad briefing, where he got down on one knee and presented Nancyrella with her missing pinkish beige slipper.

Horror Flick. You won’t want to miss the next big blockbuster thriller, “Revenge of the STDs,” coming soon to a theater near you.

A takeoff on “Stars Wars: Revenge of the Sith,” the STD flick — yes, it’s about sexually transmitted diseases — is a tradition sponsored by Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn. (He held six annual safe-sex slide shows during his three terms in the House.)

Coburn has been sending around a “Star Wars”-themed flier touting this year’s slide show with a picture of Yoda declaring, “Stop the STDs, we must,” and Darth Vader warning, “Never underestimate the power of the STDs.”

The spacey flier opens much the same way “Stars Wars” does: “Not so long ago, there were only two known sexually transmitted diseases. Today there are more than 25 STDs which infect more than 19 million Americans each year. …”

Coburn notes that many people are not aware that the human papillomavirus infects 5.5 million Americans each year. “Studies have shown that condoms do not provide effective protection against HPV infection,” Coburn states, adding in a “Dear Colleague” letter that as a physician he personally has witnessed the “ravaging effects” of STDs. “In many cases, STDs lurk undetected in the body for months or years before unleashing their terrible effects,” he writes.

Coburn is inviting all Members of Congress, staff and interns to attend the slide show on May 26 (one week after the opening of the final installment of the “Star Wars” saga) at 11:45 a.m. in HC-5 of the Capitol. “A free pizza lunch will be served but attendees should be advised that some slides contain graphic images.”

HOH has lost her appetite.

Retro Dealmakers. Good news, dealmakers: The “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” days are still alive in the Senate.

Look no further than the revised version of the highway spending bill, currently being debated in the Senate.

Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) needed some help from Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Finance ranking member Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to boost the amount of money in his “meager” $284 billion bill.

No problem for Grassley and Baucus. They put their heads together and easily came up with a few tax loopholes they could close as well as other offsets that would give Inhofe an extra $11.5 billion in highway construction money.

But what might Inhofe be able to give them in return? Hmmm, how about a little cash for Montana State University and the University of Iowa? Bingo.

Indeed, new provisions in the highway bill allot $1 million to the Western Transportation Institute at Baucus’ home-state school for a study of how other countries finance their highway trust funds. And for Grassley — he is the chairman, for crying out loud — Iowa’s Public Policy Center gets a whopping $16.5 million for a long-term field test of ways to assess highway use taxes.

HOH isn’t saying this was a definite tit-for-tat. But we’re just sayin’!

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.

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