Everybody Wants to Be a Director

Posted June 1, 2007 at 6:05pm

If you see random tourists, or perhaps even seasoned (but notoriously low-paid) reporters, chasing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) with their camera phones in hand, it may be less about the Iraq War and more because they’re a bit cash-strapped. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting government transparency, is offering $500 for the first video capturing McConnell “on record, answering (or refusing to answer)” who has a super-secret “anonymous hold” on a bill that would require Senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically, rather than the current practice of filing only on paper, according to Sunlight’s new Web site, WhatsMcConnellHiding.com.

“Show up at his office in Kentucky or in DC, catch him as he’s boarding a plane to or from Louisville, try to flag him at an event. Capture him on video telling you who is behind the block on S. 223,” the site entreats. The winner’s video will be posted on YouTube.

The Sunlight Foundation also ponied up for a billboard — asking “What’s McConnell Hiding?” — strategically located in McConnell’s hometown of Louisville, on Interstate 65 near the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center.

McConnell spokesman Don Stewart dismissed the stunt, saying, “A billboard in Kentucky won’t encourage the Majority Leader from Nevada to bring the bill to the floor.”

True, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could schedule the bill for floor consideration and jump through all the time-consuming procedural hoops that anonymous holds require. Twice this year, Democratic bill sponsors have attempted to bring up and pass the bill without amendment or debate, only to be thwarted by a dastardly — we assume — “anonymous” Republican Senator (or Senators).

Stewart points out, however, “As Sen. McConnell told Roll Call earlier, the objection wasn’t to the bill. It wasn’t to ‘sunlight.’ … The objection was raised so that there would be a debate in the sunshine of the Senate floor, in front of the C-SPAN cameras.”

Indeed, McConnell did talk to Roll Call weeks ago about the hold. The reporter he spoke with now feels cheated by this Sunlight Foundation contest, having neglected to catch the momentous brush-off on camera.

She’s Also Huge in Belgium. A couple of weeks ago, “Who is [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.]?” was the correct answer — actually, question — in the final category of an episode of “Jeopardy!”

But while that “Jeopardy!” question — or rather, answer — concerned a quote from Pelosi’s inaugural speech as Speaker, maybe the answer should have been, “This Speaker recently became the highest-ranking American ever to visit Greenland.”

Yes, Pelosi now holds that honor. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) dropped that bombshell at a press conference Friday with Pelosi on global warming issues.

“We were told by officials in Greenland, that as they look back at their records, that Speaker Pelosi is the highest-ranking American official to ever visit Greenland,” Markey said. “The significance of that cannot be reinforced enough.”

Markey and Pelosi had just returned from a Congressional delegation visit to Greenland and several European countries to talk about climate change, and as Markey put it, “I can’t tell you what it meant to each one of these countries to have the Speaker of the House of Representatives visit. It was a statement that they accepted like water on the desert.”

Naturally, HOH went to his trusty Web bookmarks and — as he does most mornings — pulled up the site for the Greenland newspaper Sermitsiak’. There was the story:

“En af USAs mest indflydelsesrige politikere, formanden for Repræsentanternes Hus, Nancy Pelosi fra Det Demokratiske Parti, kommer lørdag til Grønland, oplyser KNR.”

That pretty much speaks for itself. No word on whether Pelosi can confirm that, as HOH understands it, Greenland is really very icy, whereas Iceland is actually very green.

Celebrities: They Walk Among Us. Attention, fans of “The Notebook” and, especially, devotees of the short-lived TV show “Young Hercules” (you know who you are): The handsome Canadian thespian Ryan Gosling is here in our nation’s capital today, and he wants to talk to you.

What’s the topic of discussion? His eyes? Cheekbones? No. It’s Uganda, of course.

Gosling — who is currently working on a film about child soldiers in Northern Uganda — is in D.C. working with several groups to raise awareness about the crisis in the war-torn African nation. At 6:30 tonight, Gosling will attend a panel discussion at the Center for American Progress headquarters on H Street Northwest. According to a release, the event “is geared toward students and young professionals.”

Then on Tuesday, Gosling will hit a 5:30 p.m. private reception in Room 106 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building with Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). At 6, the soiree will turn into an open briefing and discussion with Gosling and representatives of several groups working to improve the situation in Uganda.

Then he will recite your favorite lines from “The Notebook.” Or maybe he won’t. You’ll have to attend to find out.

Other Celebrities Walking Among Us. Ryan Gosling not floating your boat? HOH understands. How about Kerry Washington, Tim Daly and Wendie Malick?

On Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building, those three actors will join Pelosi and Reps. Mary Bono (R-Calif.), Chet Edwards (D-Texas) and Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) for the inaugural meeting of the National Task Force on Children’s Safety.

Pelosi is the honorary chairwoman of the group, which brings together organizations such as the American Red Cross and the American College of Pediatrics to focus on — you guessed it — children’s safety issues.

The Creative Coalition is also involved so, of course, Joe Pantoliano will be there, too. HOH firmly believes that, if he hasn’t already, that guy should consider just buying a place in D.C.

Emily Pierce and Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.

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