Orange Is the New Pink

Posted April 13, 2007 at 6:35pm

This year’s fashion forecast is in, courtesy of the Senate Finance Committee: Orange jumpsuits and tweed jackets are hot, hot, hot. A witness testifying before the panel last week unveiled the new look, insouciantly mixing a standard- issue prison orange jumpsuit with a Brooks Brothers tweed blazer belonging to one of the committee’s aides.

The sure-to-be-everywhere style was born when Evangelos Dimitrios Soukas showed up at the committee to testify about how he ripped off the IRS by filing fake tax returns. The appearance of the stubbly chinned convict already had caused some waves. The Justice Department had sought to bar Soukas from testifying, saying his televised appearance could boost his status among inmates — not necessarily a good thing behind bars, apparently. [IMGCAP(1)]

A Senate Finance staffer tells HOH that when Soukas arrived to testify, he had nothing to wear but his prison togs, and aides wanted to help him spiff up before facing the Senators — and the cameras — “out of respect for the institution.”

After considering bringing in a full ensemble, including pants, for the prisoner — an idea that was dismissed because it would have been too cumbersome for the marshals guarding him — they settled on a jacket to be worn atop his prison garb. The sport coat was a tweed herringbone Brooks Brothers number that belongs to a tax aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the panel’s ranking member. Before the prisoner could don the jacket, marshals checked it for “contraband,” the staffer said.

Soukas wore it during his testimony, and afterward, the marshals returned the jacket to its owner.

Now that’s what you call dressing for success.

Harry, Charles and the Mic. Despite being the Senate’s head honcho, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sometimes finds himself having to share the limelight with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), his comrade-in-arms who’s a little, ahem, more media-friendly than the Nevada Democrat. The two Democrats’ battle for the spotlight went public last week.

Reid and Schumer, who’s never met a microphone he didn’t like, were talking to reporters on Thursday, and an NPR reporter was pressing Reid about the war. As Reid endeavored to answer, Schumer, who was seated next to him, broke into a rather lusty coughing fit. Reid appeared a bit peeved by the interruption. “One of the few times I have a chance to get on NPR and you are screwing it up,” Reid complained.

Schumer quickly was handed a bottle of water, to chuckles from the press corps.

Imus’ Lott in Life. One couldn’t help but think that Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) must have been watching the whole Don Imus episode unfold last week with some combination of sympathy, Schadenfreude and discomfort. After all, Lott helped provide the modern blueprint for public figures who make racially tinged blunders when he lost his position as Majority Leader for making comments that some thought were pro-segregation.

HOH asked Lott on Friday whether he thought exiled radio gabber Imus should have lost his show for calling members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos,” but the usually loquacious Lott wouldn’t, as they say, go there.

“Oh I don’t know,” he demurred. “I’ve never been on his show and would never go. I’ll tell you that.”

Xtina’s Designs on Congress. Next week, Members of Congress will be getting some fashion cues from pop star Christina Aguilera, who’s known for her vampy pinup looks.

OK, so it won’t quite be as exciting as fishnet stockings and bustiers to liven up dull hearings — the Xtina-inspired looks will be a little more Congress-appropriately tame. Aguilera designed a scarf and tie that Lifetime TV and nonprofit partners including the National Center for Victims of Crime will distribute to every Member of Congress on Monday. Look for lawmakers to sport the jaunty maroon polka-dotted silk accessories to show their support for the campaign to end violence against women.

And sadly, the vixen warbler won’t be on hand to distribute the goods herself. “Christina’s on tour,” a representative for the group explained.

Good Deal. From the Random things you probably didn’t know Department: “Deal or No Deal” baldy Howie Mandel has suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder mysophobia, which is the fancy-pants medical term for fear of germs. And he’s coming to the Hill to talk about it next month, according to representatives for the Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. Mandel wants to share his story with Members and staff in the hopes that it will “raise awareness about the importance of providing youth with services that help them function better at home, in school, in the community and throughout life,” according to the group’s release.

What’s inside his briefcase? We mean, of course, aside from millions of crawling microorganisms? Stay tuned.

Beth Crowley of CongressNow contributed to this report.

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