Durbin Ratted Out

Posted March 19, 2007 at 6:31pm

For years, Capitol Hill types have heard tales of the zany doings of the denizens of the aging-frat-boy “Animal House” shared by Democratic Reps. George Miller (Calif.) and Bill Delahunt (Mass.), and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.).

Turns out, some of those hijinks have earned the roomies enemies in the rodent-protection community. Durbin recently recounted the story of killing a rat with a golf club (many of the stories have centered on the Capitol Hill house’s pesky rodent population) during an interview with ABC News.[IMGCAP(1)]

The rat tale provoked ire from the folks at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who wrote Durbin to complain about the incident — and what they say is Durbin’s cavalier attitude toward cold-blooded rat murder.

“Making light of cruelly beating an animal to death on a national television network’s Web site encourages American citizens — especially impressionable young people — to disregard animals’ feelings and possibly attempt to mimic your irresponsible behavior by killing rats or other animals in cruel ways,” PETA wildlife biologist Stephanie Boyles wrote to Durbin.

Durbin’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment, but HOH is worried that the American public really will look to Durbin as a role model whose behavior they surely will emulate. Forget the rat violence — if more 62-year-old men with six-figure salaries start moving into filthy group houses together, you’ll know who to blame.

Don’t Get Any Ideas, Crowley. David Felipe, a seven-plus-year veteran of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is shakin’ the proverbial dust of this crummy town off his feet and now he’s gonna see the world.

Felipe is leaving his steady-paycheck gig at the Chamber for the unpredictable, and yet so much more glamorous, world of rock and roll.

Felipe tells HOH he bought a guitar just before he started at the Chamber’s labor policy shop to provide an escape from the grind of politics and corporate life. He soon moved to the organization’s communications operation, nursing his new hobby in his spare time and later playing solo gigs at local spots such as the late Adams Morgan venue Staccato.

Now, Felipe has decided to make his passion his full-time pursuit and is planning a move to the City That Never Sleeps (hey, we hear that if he can make it there, he’ll make it anywhere). “It was a combination of factors,” including a recent 30th birthday, a new EP and encouragement from his music producers in New York, he explains of the decision.

The singer/songwriter says co-workers were surprised to hear of his new direction, since after seven years, many thought he was a Chamber lifer. But he tells HOH he has no regrets about trading writing wonky press releases for writing songs full time. “It’s not so much living the rock and roll lifestyle, since that happens for so few people,” he says. “I’ve never felt more comfortable doing anything else as I have making music.”

Be Afraid. Since blowing covert agents’ cover is so cool right now, HOH is going to hop on the bandwagon. You heard it here first: Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) moonlights as a ninja assassin. OK, OK, maybe not (what’s that, Mr. Libel Lawyer?), but she hinted at a hearing on Monday that she has her … shall we say … ways of dealing with enemies.

At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on alleged White House interference with climate change scientists, Watson recalled a confrontation she had at an international trade conference in Qatar with an unnamed Commerce Department official who referred to climate change as a delusional myth.

“I talked to him about it afterwards,” she said. “He was quite curt and rude … and he’s no longer with the department.” In fact, the Congresswoman informed the committee, “He’s no longer alive.”

Members of the audience and committee broke into laughter, although HOH imagines the titters were tinged with sheer terror.

Mojo Rising? Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) was an Ole Miss cheerleader in his undergrad days. And although he’s mercifully given up the letter sweaters and megaphones, he apparently hasn’t lost his go-team spirit.

On Monday, Lott unexpectedly dropped by the regular Monday morning meeting of Republican press secretaries and, despite the fact that he wasn’t an invited speaker, delivered an impromptu pep talk to the slightly mystified staffers.

According to one aide there, Lott advised them that although Republicans seemed to have “lost their mojo” on messaging, they were getting it back, citing the GOP victory last week in blocking the Democrats’ Iraq bill. He also advised them to make sure that their message work was reaching the Senators. “It was a real go-get-’em speech,” the staffer said. “A surprise — and a nice way to start the week.”

A Lott spokeswoman said the Senator founded the weekly press secretary meetings back in 1996, when he was Majority Leader; before then, press types had been lumped in with legislative assistants. “He was headed to another meeting and thought he’d have a little reunion, so he just decided to bop over,” the spokeswoman said.

Gimme a “G” … gimme an “O”… Or maybe, just another Iraq vote would do.

McCain’s No Homer. HOH reported last week about the smirks greeting Sen. John McCain’s predictable March Madness bracket picks posted on the Arizona Republican’s campaign Web site.

Some staffers told HOH the picks — his Final Four teams are all top seeds — seemed a tad cautious for such a self-styled maverick, and one suggested that McCain might have been trying to establish “conservative” credentials as he seeks the GOP presidential nomination.

Now, another HOH reader writes to complain that McCain’s picks didn’t even include his own home-state team. McCain predicted Arizona would lose to Florida in round two of the championship games. Which turned out to be wrong, because Arizona — perhaps dispirited by the lack of support from McCain — lost to Purdue in the first round and didn’t even make it to the Florida matchup.

“If you’re going to pander to sports fans, at least pander with some home-state pride,” an HOH reader gripes.

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