Take the F-Train

Posted May 18, 2007 at 6:46pm

It doesn’t look like Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will be joining the list of Senate Republicans endorsing Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president anytime soon. At least, not unless Cornyn considers McCain’s use of the F-bomb to be a selling point. [IMGCAP(1)]

Several key Republican sources tell HOH that McCain in fact told Cornyn to “f— off” during a last-minute meeting Thursday to wrap up details of the then soon-to-be-announced bipartisan immigration agreement. Apparently, Cornyn — the conservative stalwart who has been negotiating with fellow Senators for weeks on the deal — was making a final push for some of his provisions when McCain (who has been on the campaign trail for the past five weeks) jumped in to cut him off.

Just to get warmed up, our sources say McCain charged Cornyn with making a “chickens–t” argument to try to sink the delicate immigration package, and urged him to leave the room. (Notably, the room was the ceremonial presidential area off the Senate Chamber where some 40 people were huddling, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and a handful of other Democratic and Republican Senators.)

No wallflower himself, Cornyn struck back, charging McCain with “trying to parachute in” to the negotiations at the 11th hour to try to be a player in a deal of which he had little or no part. Then, according to several observers, things turned really ugly.

McCain turned to Cornyn and said: “F— you. I know more about this issue than anyone here in the room.”

According to sources, the exchange was met with awkward silence.

The Smell of Success. Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama is hoping to inspire young people to join his campaign’s grass-roots movement, but some folks found a recent invite to do just that a tad olfactorily offensive.

That’s because the Illinois Democrat’s campaign sent out an e-mail inviting people to attend a Wednesday night event titled “Generation BO Kick-Off.” Ahem, that’s BO as in Barack Obama — but also as in “body odor” (yes, the sixth grade called and it wants its joke back).

Some of the invite recipients smelled a rat. After all, isn’t Obama, in the famous words of fellow presidential wannabe Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), supposed to be so “clean”?

One thirtysomething who received the e-mail wondered if he was, in fact, part of the BO Generation. “Who exactly belongs to the BO Generation?” the recipient asked HOH. “Is it us? Do we all suffer from a glandular condition?”

Obama spokesman Bill Burton cleared the air — sort of. He wouldn’t ‘fess up to which “ad wizard” in the Obama campaign hatched the coming-to-a-T-shirt-near-you “Generation BO” moniker. But he explained the fundraising event is aimed at getting folks involved. “We believe grass-roots change is one part inspiration and 99 parts perspiration,” Burton joked.

The event is slated for the trendy H2O Restaurant & Lounge along the Southwest waterfront. We just hope someone brings the soap.

The At-Odds Couple. HOH thinks that Reps. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) secretly enjoy their little game of verbal sparring on the House floor. There’s something about their fights that smacks of Oscar and Felix, a dynamic that was evident once again during a late-night debate Thursday over a bill that Frank is sponsoring.

McHenry, you might guess, isn’t a big fan of the bill, which would increase federal oversight of lending by mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

He and Frank have clashed before, most publicly in an explosive floor fight during debate over the minimum-wage bill. Late Thursday, McHenry tried to bait Frank by asking him to explain why his arm was in a sling (Frank, as HOH reported, sent out a testy “Dear Colleague” letter asking Members not to ask him about the injury). “I’d like to yield to the chairman of the Financial Services Committee [Frank] for a question,” McHenry said. “I know the C-SPAN audience, Mr. Chairman, is very interested in my colleague’s injury, and I know he circulated a ‘Dear Colleague,’ but if you could explain your injury.”

Frank, though, wouldn’t rise to the challenge. “I decline to take up the time of the House at this late date,” he rejoined.

We can’t wait for the sequel, in which they exchange witty repartee over who drank the milk straight from the carton.

Drinks With Dems. As she gears up for a challenge from Democratic Rep. Tom Allen, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) appears to be polishing her reputation as a moderate who isn’t afraid to break bread — or raise a glass — with Democrats. Collins was doing that on Thursday night, when two Roll Call reporters spotted Collins out at popular Senate-side eatery Johnny’s Half Shell.

Collins noted to the reporters that she was being bipartisan and “having a drink with Democrats.” Indeed, her party included Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Maria Cantwell (Wash.), along with assorted staffers. The group appeared to be having a bipartisanly good time.

Fast-Faking News. This just in: An area Senator reveals shocking secrets of Senate hazing. Ah, if only it were true, but that little bit of fake news was delivered courtesy of Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) at a party to welcome HOH’s favorite purveyor of fake news, The Onion, to Washington.

Feingold gave a speech at The Onion’s welcome party last Wednesday at the Folger Shakespeare Library, revealing for the first time a Skull-and-Bones-style practice among the august Members of the Senate known as “Junior-Senior.” According to Feingold, the junior Senator of each state is required to regularly play tricks and generally haze the state’s senior Senator. “Senators like Arlen Specter, Ted Kennedy and Robert C. Byrd are frankly sick and tired of being at the beck and call of their junior Senators,” Feingold revealed. And, he said, the practice has gotten out of hand and needs to be stopped. “Things really went over the line the time Debbie Stabenow Junior-Senior’d Carl Levin and he had to drink out of a stinky old shoe in front of all the women Senators,” he said.

Oh, fake news, if only you were true!

The Goodbye Gal. Tina Tate, the longtime director of the House Radio-TV Gallery, got a warm send-off last week from lawmakers and the reporters who cover them. After 25 years in the gallery, Tate is leaving to manage media relations for the Newseum — but her gallery charges weren’t about to let her go without a little roasting and toasting first.

Gallery regulars, including Fox News Senior Producer Jim Mills and NBC’s Mike Viqueira, presented Tate on Thursday with a mocked-up House resolution (printed in an awfully convincing format — a testimony to the well-placed sources of those wily TV guys) lauding her tenure.

H. Res. 321 (the gallery’s room number) was filled with touching “whereas”-es, such as, “Whereas Tina began her career in the Radio-TV Correspondents’ Gallery when Speaker Pelosi was still changing diapers, Leader Boehner was still bumming smokes from roommates … Whereas if the Newseum job doesn’t work out, Tina can go back to her original plan of running a nationwide chain of charm schools with Chairman Obey … ”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) were among those who paid tribute to Tate with speeches at the Thursday night reception in the Longworth House Office Building.

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