Easy Riders

Posted April 30, 2007 at 6:38pm

Over the weekend, a bunch of Senators on wheels made for an unlikely biker gang on the mean streets of New York. [IMGCAP(1)]

During Democrats’ retreat in the Big Apple, home-state Sen. Charles Schumer showed off his Brooklyn stomping grounds during a break in the action by leading a group of his fellow Democrats and their families on a two-wheeled tour deep into the borough. The entourage included Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and Benjamin Cardin (Md.), and assorted spouses and kids. Schumer, an avid bicyclist, frequently pedals around the city on weekends.

While many of the participants have adopted a what-happens-in-New-York-stays-in-New-York attitude about the retreat, HOH can bring you some details of the Saturday-afternoon outing, including the gear (helmets all around) and the highlights (the post-workout meal at Italian eatery Carmine’s), and the security (plenty).

And most reassuringly, considering that most of the bikers are of the pasty-skinned variety, HOH is assured there was no Lycra involved.

Red(neck) State(ments). When Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite uttered the phrase “’git ‘er done” on the House floor in January during the debate over the Iraq War resolution, little did the Florida Republican know she was currying favor with a redneck constituency that would lead to an invitation to mingle with some of her favorite funnymen.

Brown-Waite’s use of the “’git ‘er done” slogan apparently attracted the attention of Larry the Cable Guy, the comedian famous for hick stylings and a motto the Congresswoman would approve of: “Git-R-Done!” Tonight, Brown-Waite will be Larry’s guest at the premiere of his new movie “Delta Farce,” a military-set slapstick comedy, her spokesman tells HOH. Brown-Waite will sit in the VIP section at the screening at Andrews Air Force Base and get the chance to meet Larry and his co-stars. Yee-haw!

Brown-Waite’s spokesman said his boss is a big fan of redneck humor, and the Blue Collar Comedy tour — the traveling stand-up act featuring Larry — in particular. “A lot of folks in her district relate to that,” he said.

Speaking against the Democratic-sponsored Iraq War resolution in January, Brown-Waite delivered a Southern-flavored pep talk. “In the South, we have a wonderful saying and it goes like this: ‘Git ‘er done,’” she said on the House floor. “Our soldiers want to get it done and come home. And our president wants the same thing. And this Congress should also demand the exact same thing. Let’s get out there and ‘Git ‘er done.’”

That speech, which was noted in her local paper, unexpectedly prompted a staffer for the movie’s production company to call the Congresswoman’s office to invite her to the premiere. “She’s really excited,” her spokesman enthused.

You know you’re a redneck if … an invite from someone named Larry the Cable Guy makes your day.

If Walls Could Talk. There’s plenty that’s unusual about the dispute between Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) and the Justice Department over the FBI raid of the Congressman’s Washington, D.C., office — including the title of the court case.

The matter is docketed (that’s fancy legalese for “officially titled”) as “United States of America v. Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2113.” So, HOH wants to know if the Rayburn room named in the suit will actually show up in court, or if it will have a sentient being representing it. We can only imagine the witnesses the room could call: The drapes could testify about the room’s character, while the carpet could plead for the judge to tread lightly.

Legal sources tell HOH the odd case name probably is a result of the fact that the initial documents in the case would have been slugged “In RE: Rayburn House Office Building Room 2113,” because that’s where the search took place. As the case became a dispute between the raiders (the FBI) and the raid-ee (the Congressman, not the room) the original name somehow stuck, and the office now gets top billing, the legal eagles explained to HOH.

It remains a reasonable certainty (again, there we go with the lawyer talk) that when the case — which revolves around whether the FBI raid violated the Congressman’s right to claim protection for legislative materials under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution — goes to oral argument before a federal appeals court on May 15, a lawyer will speak on the room’s behalf.

House Boy. Don’t look for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) around the Capitol anytime soon — the Congresswoman is swapping briefing books for lighter fare (think “Pat the Bunny”), after giving birth to son Cole McMorris Rodgers on Sunday. A spokeswoman tells HOH that McMorris Rodgers will take about a month off, but she could pop over to the Capitol from her Capitol Hill home for a vote during that time. “It depends on the vote — and on the baby,” the spokeswoman said.

McMorris Rodgers and husband, Brian Rodgers, said they were thrilled by the new addition to their family, although it arrived four weeks earlier than they expected.

“Brian and I are overjoyed by the birth of our son,” McMorris Rodgers said in a statement released Monday. “Although he arrived early, both the baby and I are doing well and recovering at the hospital. We look forward to soon being able to bring our son home.”

Cole’s preemie status means he’s a little smaller than most, weighing 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and he has to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., “to address minor complications,” according to a statement from the Congresswoman’s office.

The birth makes McMorris Rodgers the fifth sitting Member to have a child while in office, according to her staff’s research.

Homecoming. After more than four months in the hospital recovering from a brain hemorrhage, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) is returning to his residence in the Virginia suburbs. The Senator will keep meeting with members of his staff, a spokeswoman said, while he continues therapy, much of which is focused on helping the Senator try to regain the ability to walk. “As I continue with my therapy, I also get more and more work from the office,” Johnson said in a statement released on Monday. “The doctors tell me to pace myself and prepare for the long road, but I am determined to get back in the saddle.”

Johnson was hospitalized Dec. 13 and was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a condition that can cause arteries to burst.

Johnson has not set a date for resuming work in the Capitol, his spokeswoman said, but he’s looking forward to it. “He’s jonesing for news,” the spokeswoman added.

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