Goin’ Back to Cali

Posted February 12, 2007 at 6:36pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) managed to stay on message during a sit-down last year with funnyman David Letterman on his New York City set. [IMGCAP(1)]

Now she’s heading to the hot seat for left-coast host Jay Leno, who films his late-night show in Los Angeles. California transplant Pelosi will appear on the Feb. 23 episode of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Pelosi’s office confirms.

We’re thinking Leno will tone down his goofy schtick for a visit from a distinguished guest like the Speaker of the House, much like the usually off-the-wall Letterman did (Letterman and Pelosi mostly chatted soberly about the Iraq War and the then-upcoming elections, with a few lighthearted moments thrown in).

“The Speaker is a big fan of late-night TV,” spokesman Drew Hammill said. “She found it fitting that her first late-night appearance as Speaker would be with a fellow Californian.”

Be My … Donor. Yeah, we didn’t need another example of why Washington, D.C., is one of the least romantic locales on Earth. Ah, but here it is: a smoochy, red-heart inscribed invitation to … a fundraiser.

At several Valentine’s Day fundraisers, lobbyists have the chance to show that there’s no better way to say “I love you” than with the gift of a check. And, as with diamonds, the bigger, the better.

Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) beckoned potential attendees to a fundraising luncheon with an e-mail whose subject line reads “be my snowy Valentine?” The invitation boasts a heart motif and lipstick-red lettering.

But be prepared to shell out a bit more than you would for a Whitman’s Sampler (or even a box of Godiva). The “suggested donation” is a cool grand.

Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.), too, has a romantic proposition for would-be suitors, er, we mean donors. At his V-Day luncheon fundraiser at the Capitol Hill Club, political action committees are asked for $1,000 and individuals $500. And if you’re stumped for where to take your sweetie, why not today’s Valentine’s fundraiser for Rep. Don Manzullo (R-Ill.) at the uber-romantic Landini Brothers restaurant in Alexandria, Va.? At $1,500 per PAC, you can bring a “significant other.”

DeGette, though, has ruled out the possibility of an amorous holiday. Her spokesman told us that the Congresswoman’s husband is flying into D.C. that night, but he has a late flight, and that her daughter will be visiting for a school-related event. “She says the chances of Cupid’s arrow striking are pretty slim,” he said.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. He was undeterred by the unflattering comparisons to the furry-lipped guy from the Village People. Unmoved by uncomfortable propositions by a certain cable-network comic to groom his lustrous mustache. And for decades, he stood resolute in his commitment to facial hair, despite fashion trends to the contrary and the well-established political wisdom that people don’t vote for men with something to hide.

But after 40 years of sporting a ’stache, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) finally went under the razor. The famously mustachioed Congressman turned heads this weekend with a newly bare upper lip.

Gingrey spokeswoman Becky Ruby said her boss vowed years ago that he would shave his trademark ’stache at the first sign of gray. And apparently, the 64-year-old proved good on his word, shaving it himself this weekend.

Gingrey’s mustache provided plenty of fodder for laughs over the years, like when Stephen Colbert asked if he could comb it during an interview with the Congressman last year on “The Colbert Report.”

Although the skin-baring makeover surprised even Gingrey’s staff, most of whom had never seen him without it, Ruby assured us that the freshly shorn lawmaker had permission.

“He had full spousal approval” from wife Billie, she said.

Lamar! Any visitor to the Capitol knows how many historic exhibits there are scattered throughout the seat of democracy. From famous photos to statesman-like statues, priceless works of art and reminders of years past abound.

But HOH was still a little surprised to hear last week that a pair of staffers were seen walking carefully down a Senate office building hallway carrying a glass-encased flannel shirt.

Of course, flannel shirts evoke two memories for HOH — going to rock concerts in high school and the presidential campaigns of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

It’s not completely clear whether the flannel shirt spotted in the Senate hallways did belong to Alexander, but there is, in fact, a similar specimen on display over in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

“We do have a black-and-red plaid shirt hanging proudly in our office,” confirmed Alexander spokeswoman Jill Bader, adding that the Tennessean did move from the Hart building into Dirksen just last week.

The shirt, which originally was on loan from the Smithsonian Institution, is the one Alexander wore when he walked more than 1,000 miles across Tennessee during his 1978 gubernatorial campaign.

The shirt has since been laundered, presumably, and is now available for all to see. “We also have a barn wall from Appalachia,” Bader said.

Please form a line at the door.

A New HOH. Not to sound like a waitress at Ruby Tuesday’s, but here goes: My name’s Emily and I’ll be your new HOH. I’m taking over from the witty Ben Pershing (and Mary Ann Akers before him) as this column’s scribe. I look forward to hearing your feedback, ideas and tips.

And while I’ll do all I can to serve you heaping helpings of Washington-flavored gossip, I’m afraid you can’t get fries with this dish.

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