Iron Chef

Posted March 13, 2007 at 6:49pm

Don’t mess with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). Whether the subject is immigration legislation or canapés, he’s not a guy to cross.

So that’s why HOH is figuring Sensenbrenner will be tough to beat as he and his wife, Cheryl, defend their best-dish title in the March of Dimes Gourmet Gala, set for March 28. The Sensenbrenners took the top honors at last year’s hors d’oeuvres throw down with their “Farmers’ Napoleons.” This year, they’re entering “Farmer’s Reward Terrine,” a dish that gourmet-minded Mrs. Sensenbrenner tells HOH consists of lentils and Cornish hen with a cranberry-orange vinaigrette (cranberry’s a Wisconsin crop, natch).

But they’ll have to contend with what sounds like stiff competition, such as “Chile con Queso Mexicano” from Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) and wife Carolina; “Bodman Energy Poppers” from Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and his wife, Diane; and “Smoked Ozark Trout” from Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.) and his wife, Linda.

Mrs. Sensenbrenner, a longtime gala vet, says she’s not too concerned about the competition. “I don’t worry too much about that,” she said. “The important thing is to do it for the March of Dimes, which does great work.” And here’s a little inside dish: Surprise, surprise, most Members don’t have all that much input in their family’s competition entry. “I’m sure a lot of girls would admit, our husbands don’t know what we’re doing,” she told HOH.

To borrow a catchphrase from “Iron Chef America”: Whose cuisine will reign supreme? Like we said, don’t mess with Sensenbrenner.

Oxford, Take Note. There sure wasn’t any news coming out of Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) overhyped press conference on Monday. But the non-event wasn’t a total loss. It spawned a new expression that’s quickly catching on around Capitol Hill: “pulling a Hagel.”

After the House Republican Conference weekly meeting on Tuesday, reporters asked House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) for specifics on what amendments Republican appropriators would offer to the war supplemental. Not wanting to reveal any details, Blunt quipped, “This is like a Chuck Hagel news conference — come back Thursday.”

Later Tuesday afternoon, Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) dropped the phrase at a press conference opposing the inclusion of any Iran language in the supplemental. While Democrats already removed the provision, Pence still lauded the decision, “at the risk of sounding like Chuck Hagel,” he said.

One GOP aide said he could see it creeping into Hill lexicon. “I like it,” the aide said. “It’s like ‘just make a decision, don’t pull a Hagel.’”

McCain Plays it Safe. Despite his oft-repeated “maverick” moniker, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is taking a most conservative approach to one of the major issues of the day.

That would be the presidential contender’s March Madness bracket, which is chockablock with way-too-safe choices, according to HOH’s basketball experts. According to McCain’s Web site, which has posted his bracket picks and invites supporters to enter in theirs, he predicts the Final Four teams will be the top seeds from each region. And of his Elite Eight, no team on McCain’s list is ranked lower than third seed. No Cinderellas, no surprises, nada — and this from a guy who seems to pride himself on unpredictability.

“It looks like Sen. McCain’s attempts to convince Republican voters he really is a conservative extend to his basketball picks,” one GOP staffer smirked. Still, playing it safe might not be the best way to go, the aide said. “He might want to reconsider his strategy, since four No. 1 seeds have never, ever advanced to the Final Four.”

Now that’s some straight talk.

Marathon Man. Boots may be out of fashion now that spring has (almost) arrived, but don’t tell that to Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). The Senator is sporting an orthopedic boot after injuring his foot in a charity volleyball game on Saturday — and then proceeding to run a half-marathon on Sunday.

The energetic Carper broke the fifth metatarsal of his right foot while playing with fellow Democrats against a Republican team in an Easter Seals benefit game (adding insult to, well, injury, the Dems lost).

Carper didn’t know it was broken at the time and treated the injury with ice and ibuprofen. The next day, he ran the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon in Wilmington, Del., sponsored by the American Lung Association.

HOH has heard the phrase “walk it off” before after an injury, but never “run it off.”

Susan Davis contributed to this report.

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