Boehner’s Waterworks

Posted February 13, 2007 at 6:30pm

Behind his meticulously groomed exterior, biting sense of humor and usually unflappable demeanor, it turns out that House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is (gasp) kind of a sentimental guy. Awww.

Seriously, the (not-so-tough) guy tears up on a semi-regular basis. Take yesterday, when Boehner listened to colleague Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) talk to reporters after the weekly Republican Conference meeting about the seven years he spent as a prisoner of war. As Johnson emotionally described his struggle and his vow to protect men and women in uniform, the waterworks began. Tears streamed down the GOP leader’s face, which he mopped with an at-the-ready hankie. [IMGCAP(1)]

Turns out, that hankie gets quite a workout: Boehner also has shed tears at solemn public events such as the 2006 anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and after winning the Republican leadership election last year. Those who know him say he frequently tears up privately, too, when confronted with poignant stories and pleas.

The weepy moments don’t really fit with Boehner’s too-cool MO. But, hey, HOH likes a guy who isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Owens Raps Millender-McDonald. Here’s an item that’s a veritable combo platter of some of HOH’s favorite subjects: former Rep. Major Owens (D-N.Y.) has penned one of his famous “rap poems” about his attention-grabbing pal, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.).

Owens posted his free-verse poem extolling Millender-McDonald’s nascent chairwomanship of the House Administration Committee on the liberal blog The Huffington Post. Owens, who has said his rap poems on topics from the Iraq War to the elections offer a creative outlet for his political sentiments, predicts in the introduction to the poem that the “not-so-gentle lady from California will quickly obliterate the colorful legends of corruption attached to the committee.”

And although Owens took it upon himself to pen this shout-out, Millender-McDonald herself is no shrinking violet. The Congresswoman is known for her historic accomplishments and considerable power (gosh, we had forgotten until we re-read her Web site that “bold initiatives have been her trademark” and that she personally oversees “all federal elections”) and for her reputation as an occasionally prickly boss.

Owens, though, likes her tough style. Here’s a sample: “From her thunder of impatience/Sometimes comes frightening lightening;/When trivial mosquitoes start biting/Juanita can curse/Or threaten even worse./She’s exciting super sophistication/ Always marvelously made-up;/Star well suited for struggle/Stature impossible to corrupt.”

Now if only HOH could find a way, Mad Libs-like, to combine some of our other favorite fonts of gossip fodder into a single item. If any readers out there have ideas on what a macaca, Sen. Norm Coleman’s (R-Minn.) dad, and former Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s (D-Ga.) hair might have in common, please send it along.

Into the Breach. So one day you’re a government contracts attorney for a staid Washington, D.C., firm, doing government-contracts things like filing papers and … well, we really don’t know what else. Then, suddenly, you’re hobnobbing with celebs on a movie press junket, navigating film-premiere red carpets and hunky actor Ryan Phillippe is playing the big-screen version of you.

Such is the Cinderella-like tale of D.C. lawyer Eric O’Neill, an associate with DLA Piper, whose role in the takedown of spy Robert Hanssen is dramatized in the movie “Breach” premiering Friday. O’Neill was a young FBI worker who got a surprising promotion to be Hanssen’s assistant, only to find that he was part of a sting operation. After five years at the FBI, he left for private law practice and started working on the film in 2001.

O’Neill now says he’s enjoying the glam trappings of the movie biz, like working with screenwriters and actors Phillippe and Chris Cooper (who plays Hanssen) during the filming of the movie. But he’s not ready to give up his day job — yet.

“I’m not brave enough to throw myself into L.A. while working at a coffee shop or tending bar or something,” he tells HOH. “I’m approaching Hollywood as a hobby now.”

So far, it looks like a pretty successful hobby: O’Neill is developing a pilot series for the CW network about his pre-Hanssen gig at the FBI as part of a surveillance team.

And he’s getting plenty of practice on the red carpet, with a series of events in Washington this week, including private screening tonight for O’Neill, his wife and friends at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Md., and a Thursday screening for DLA Piper and guests.

R Stands for Romance. Looking forward to some Valentine’s Day romance today? If your significant other’s a Republican, you just might be in luck. According to a survey, Republicans are more likely to take their valentines to dinner, buy them cards or present them with chocolates.

The survey, conducted last week by Wilson Research Strategies, found that 43 percent of Republicans planned to take their significant other out to dinner, while only 33 percent of Democrats had similar plans. And GOP lovers edged out their Dem counterparts when it came to plans to give a valentine card (24 percent and 20 percent, respectively) and chocolate (11 percent and 8 percent, respectively).

Could it be that GOPers are taking their red motif to heart?

Bush Kids Around. President Bush doesn’t get out to mingle with the people as often as his predecessors, which is maybe why when he does, it seems so funny.

To wit: Tuesday’s White House pool report, written by Todd Gillman of The Dallas Morning News, described Bush’s visit to the D.C. YMCA to visit with a group of kids. At one point, a pool reporter overheard this conversation between two of the youngsters:

“1st kid: ‘He’s my favorite president.’ (referring to Bush)

2d kid: ‘My favorite president is President Obama.’

1st kid: ‘Who’s that?’

2d kid: ‘He’s the first black president.’”

Bush also told another tot who was mugging for the camera with the prez and making a peace sign with his hand to “put your hands down.”

Less than two years left, Mr. President.

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