Low on Gas

Posted May 9, 2007 at 6:43pm

Ah, it must be almost summer, for the annual tradition of holding press conferences at gas stations to call attention to the gobsmackingly high price of filling up the gas tank of one’s massive Suburban has begun. Democrats did just that on Wednesday, complaining that gas prices are nearing all-time highs and that only swift passage of Democratically-sponsored bills (natch) would set things straight. [IMGCAP(1)]

But the problem with the Democrats’ photo op — Members standing in front of the large sign advertising prices at the Exxon station on Massachusetts Avenue Northeast — is that gas prices actually have dipped a bit since the previous year’s presser, which was held at the same location. The price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.05 on Wednesday, a full 4 cents less than it was at the April 26, 2006, event, according to Roll Call’s crack photo archives. A gallon of plus-grade gas was $3.15 at this week’s event, a relative bargain compared with last year’s price of $3.19.

The cheaper gas seemed to undercut the Democrats’ message that gas prices were going nowhere but up. A Democratic leadership aide, though, sniffed that while “HOH might find” the incongruity funny, he was certain the average American wouldn’t. (Oh, if we had a dime for every time someone told us that.) “It doesn’t matter whether the price is $3.05 or $3.09 — that’s still a lot to pay for working-class Americans,” the aide said.

Still, maybe the “do-nothing” Congress is on to something: Do nothing, and prices will drop.

Slinging Some Corn. With his right arm in a sling, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) is mining his injury for comic gold. OK, so maybe it isn’t Comedy Central stand-up material, but at least it’s good for a few yuks.

Spokesman Matt Lahr says Walberg has come up with a few laugh lines that he loves springing on constituents and others about the sling he’s wearing while he recovers from shoulder surgery. Back in the home district: “It’s brutal in Washington.” In front of a crowd, when self-deprecating humor works best: He attributes the injury to “high school wrestling days, working with horses and a bad golf game.” And when playing to his base: “I’ve always been a right-winger.”

But when the sling comes off in a few weeks, be sure to look out for Walberg’s electronic hand-buzzer.

Walking Papers. Congressional staffers tend to be upstanding, law-abiding folks — at least most are, most of the time — but Capitol Police on Wednesday apparently staged a crackdown on the one illegal activity almost all staffers indulge in regularly: jaywalking.

A panicky e-mail was making the rounds among House and Senate staffers on Wednesday. According to the missive, an officer was handing out $10 tickets to scofflaws crossing against the light near the Rayburn House Office Building. “Heads up — caution folks!” the e-mail read.

HOH couldn’t reach a Capitol Police spokesperson to find out whether the busts were part of an effort to finally put a stop to the brazen law-breaking that staffers (and even Members) routinely indulge in right before their very eyes. But just remember, no matter how often you dart across Pennsylvania Avenue, if Paris Hilton can get sent to the pokey, none of us is safe from the long arm of the law.

Hot Pants. Breaking up can be messy business. But for Tad Furtado, a staffer for the Republican Main Street Partnership and a former staffer for former Rep. Charles Bass (R-N.H.), it can be downright filthy.

First reported in CQ Weekly, Furtado’s ex-girlfriend, Renee Kevelighan, chief of staff to Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.), has accused Furtado of vandalizing her Logan Circle apartment last month. According to a complaint Kevelighan filed with the D.C. Superior Court, Furtado engaged in a litany of bad, bad behavior, including knifing furniture in her home, including her mattress, pouring Tabasco sauce in her lingerie drawer, dumping vacation photos in the toilet, pouring bleach on her clothes, slashing her wedding dress, stuffing her washer and dryer with beer, yogurt, eggs and olives, and leaving broken bottles in her refrigerator and shattered glass on the floor. She says the incident happened around April 16, about a month after she and Furtado ended a 10-month relationship.

Kevelighan also alleged that in a previous incident, also outlined in the complaint, Furtado appeared at her office, grabbed her BlackBerry and tried to run away with it. He eventually returned the BlackBerry, according to the complaint.

The court issued a temporary protective order, and a court date of May 15 has been set.

Furtado resigned his position last week at the request of Bass, who heads the Republican Main Street Partnership, according to CQ. Neither Furtado nor Kevelighan returned calls to HOH for comment.

It wasn’t the first time Furtado handed Bass resignation papers: He resigned from Bass’ personal office last year, when allegations surfaced that he had made false blog posts on liberal Web sites.

Tabasco on one’s undies? Now that’s hot stuff.

Father-Daughter Bonding. As the first Muslim elected to Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has gotten plenty of press, mostly of the serious, wonky variety, exploring “What It All Means” for religious tolerance, etc., etc. And when he took his oath of office on the Quran, he grabbed headlines in papers nationwide.

But this month, Ellison is featured in an unlikely, and far frothier, outlet: Muslim Girl magazine.

Ellison and his daughter, adorable 10-year-old Amirah, are the subjects of a profile in the glossy, which is, apparently, the Muslim tweener’s answer to Seventeen. The father-daughter spread is at home among features like “Style Your Hijab!”, showing off hip ways to tie the traditional head scarf, and an advice column counseling teens on how to talk to parents about attending high school prom.

In the story, Ellison and Amirah, who doesn’t wear a head scarf, are interviewed at their “favorite coffee shop in Minneapolis.” In the interview, Amirah (who has since turned 11) reveals that she has political ambitions of her own. “A politician,” she says when asked what she wants to be when she grows up. The father-daughter pair then recites a rhyme that goes, in part, “girls are the best; they’re better than the rest.”

Magazine editor Ausma Khan tells HOH she wanted to feature family stories in the month’s edition and that the Ellisons were a compelling story. An Ellison spokesman says Amirah was already a Muslim Girl reader.

Between the Ellisons’ girl-power interview and the conspicuous lack of Mischa Barton photos, HOH is seriously considering subscribing herself.

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