Roughing It, Senate Style

Posted February 27, 2007 at 7:00pm

Members of Congress have been complaining for months that the White House has been keeping them in the dark. But on Monday night, at least one Senator couldn’t blame the dim on the nefarious doings of that other branch of government.

An accident at a construction site Monday night caused a power outage in a portion of Northwest D.C. that includes the swanky Ritz-Carlton apartments in the West End neighborhood.[IMGCAP(1)]

And that, in turn, left many of the building’s well-heeled residents, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), stumbling around in the darkness. HOH overheard the toe-stubbing Senator admitting that he wasn’t much of a Boy Scout (er, that is, he wasn’t prepared), since he had only a flashlight and one candle — but nothing to light it with. (Lautenberg is a well-known anti-smoking crusader, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t keep a lighter around for the occasional stogie.)

In a scene surely out of a Jack London book, our hero tried bravely to use the stove to light the candle. Finally, he gave up in frustration and decamped to a nearby hotel. Where, presumably, he wouldn’t have to rough it.

But another of the building’s Senatorial residents, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), showed he was of sterner stuff. A spokesman tells HOH that Reid remained home during the ordeal.

Evil Armies, Beware. We knew our favorite governor/action star was up to something here in Washington more blockbuster-worthy than discussing Medicare (snore) and getting Congressional briefings. Turns out, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has much more exciting plans, like possibly destroying an alien force.

At a briefing in the Capitol on Tuesday, a reporter ribbed the governator about his photo, which appeared on the cover of that day’s Roll Call. In the picture, Schwarzenegger is gesturing with an outstretched arm, a slightly demonic expression on his face. “Is there a worse picture of you?” the snarky scribe queried.

Schwarzenegger had a better assessment of the pic. “It actually looks more like I’m about to get ready to attack an evil army or something,” he joked.

Look out, Democrats.

Co-Stars Unite? And in an odd coincidence, detected only by those with long memories and a taste for cheesy action movies, also in the Capitol on Tuesday was none other than Vanessa Williams, Schwarzenegger’s co-star in the 1996 D.C.-themed flick “Eraser.” Remember it? Yeah, neither do we.

The striking “Ugly Betty” star was in the Capitol to meet with Members, including House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to discuss the Special Olympics. Williams is on the board of the event and was in town for a movie screening.

Volz Meets the Press. Neil Volz, former aide to convicted ex-Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), may have gotten some unwanted headlines when he pleaded guilty in May 2006 to federal conspiracy charges in the ongoing investigation into disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s dealings on Capitol Hill.

But just a few weeks ago, Volz was mingling — voluntarily — with members of the Fourth Estate. An HOH spy belatedly tipped off HOH that Volz attended the after-party hosted by CQ following the Washington Press Club Foundation’s dinner Feb. 6 at the Ritz-Carlton.

According to our fly on the wall, Volz was wearing a newly grown beard and a dark suit, which practically constituted a disguise since many of the aides and reporters in attendance didn’t recognize him. An acquaintance jokingly asked what Volz was doing walking “into the lion’s den,” said the HOH tipster, who added that the disgraced aide who now faces prison time appeared to be in “good spirits.”

Unlikely Love Match. Can a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee gal and a guy backin’ Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) for president find love? We hope so, for the sake of the author of this Craigslist.org personal posted in the site’s “missed connections” section. He had us at the title: “Pure Cap. Hill magic — meow!” And the message itself was winsome, if a little far-fetched, describing a chance meeting of two party-crossed, would-be lovers. “I saw you coming out of Dirksen. You were carrying your lunch back to the DSCC. You were having the chicken salawich [sic] from Cups … extra pickles. I love pickles. We made eye contact. It was pure magic. I was wearing the ‘Brownback 2008’ shirt over my oxford. You had your jeans tucked into your boots and were wearing the most delightful tan sweater. Lambs wool? It looked so soft. Your golden hair glistened in the winter sun. What kind of conditioner do you use? If you find this, would you be up for some bipartisan action this weekend?”

Here’s hoping love (or at least love of pickles) conquers all.

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