Not the Preferred Nomenclature

Posted June 13, 2007 at 6:43pm

Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) certainly fared better on the football field at the University of Washington when he played pigskin for the college team than he did when he gave the school’s graduation speech last weekend — to rousing boos from clearly unimpressed students. [IMGCAP(1)]

And the Washington Democrat no doubt got tackled a few times in his gridiron days.

Now, to add insult to, well, insult, some disgruntled very recent UW grads have started a group on Facebook (that’s the online community for college kids, you oldsters) to further dis their commencement speaker. The group, “Norm Dicks is a douche bag,” was started by a former student identified on the group’s page as “Jon Brooks” and includes 15 members. The group’s mini-manifesto blasts Dicks’ “piss poor commencement ‘speech’ (AKA autobiography/political speech)” and compares it to the rants of Walter Sobchak, the character that John Goodman played in the cult flick “The Big Lebowski.”

“Basically, Norm Dicks and his speech is to UW graduation as Walter and his speeches about Vietnam is to the Big Lebowski,” the Facebook page opines. Walter, fans of the movie might recall, was the boorish vet who relates everything that happens to his time in the trenches in Nam.

The Seattle Times chronicled the poor reception Dicks got during the speech and reported that the Congressman actually was a stand-in for former Vice President Al Gore, who college officials had hoped to land as the speaker.

University spokesman Robert Roseth echoed what Dicks told The Times — namely, that the jeers had much do with the torrential rain that poured on the outdoor graduation ceremony, and not just the quality of the speaker. “People did get impatient,” he tells HOH. “It was … more the situation,” he added, noting that it wasn’t just the students, but also the audience members, who booed Dicks.

The Times reported that 10 minutes into the 15-minute speech, a student walked out in front of Dicks and motioned for him to move the talk along.

A Dicks spokesman did not return HOH’s call, and Brooks did not respond to an e-mail.

Roseth said he hadn’t seen the former students’ Facebook group. “Obviously, they’re free to express themselves,” he said, even if the online attack on Dicks seemed to be “in poor taste.”

A Stink in the Senate. Usually, if a turd gets into the Senate, it’s because he or she was elected. But on Wednesday, several large piles of actual, nonmetaphorical “No. 2” found their way into the Capitol, and the source isn’t yet clear.

Squeamish types might want to stop reading here, ’cause things are about to get icky. And, we’re temporarily changing the name of this column to SOH — Smelled on the Hill.

On Wednesday afternoon, Capitol Police cordoned off a section of the hallway on the third floor of the Senate side of the Capitol, where at least three piles of the stuff were causing a stench — and a stir.

At first, the word circulating among the staff was that a visiting child had fallen ill while in the gallery. But then the prevailing theory was that the foul stuff had come from an adult or group of adults making a yet-to-be-determined political statement.

Sources familiar with Capitol maintenance speculated it was “an unfortunate incident involving a child,” although they have no culprit and very little detail about how it transpired. The section of hallway was still closed as of late Wednesday and officials will engage in an “intense cleaning” of the section following Senate business Wednesday night, the sources said.

Witnesses said they couldn’t believe that a single culprit could have produced the volume of poo present or that a person could have, well, deposited it the normal way without attracting attention.

Several witnesses speculated it had been brought in from elsewhere.

“There was so much of it, there was just no way it came from a little kid or even that one person had done it,” said one staffer who witnessed the stinky scene.

Reports also circulated that the yucky stuff had been smeared on seats in the gallery overlooking the chamber floor, and the gallery remained closed hours after the incident was first noted.

Calls to the Capitol Police and the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms were not returned.

Call it the caca caper.

Everyone’s a WIN-er. Here’s something that might be a first: a win-win situation in which not everyone is happy. When a group of female GOP lawmakers announced they were starting a group called WIN, short for Women Impacting the Nation, some (well-groomed) eyebrows in town arched. After all, there’s already a well-known political women’s group named WIN — the Women’s Information Network, a very active professional and social network for young, pro-choice Democrats, which has been around for nearly two decades.

Alyssa Barnum, communications director for the original (Democratic) WIN, says she was surprised when someone forwarded her a report about the new group in Wednesday’s edition of Roll Call. “We’re obviously disappointed by the fact that they chose such a similar name when we’ve been so clearly established in the community for so long,” she said. But there are no plans to challenge the new WIN organization, she added. “We’re not happy about it, but we’re just going to keep doing the good work we’ve been doing since 1989,” Barnum said.

Lindy Harvey, the GOP operative who’s helping launch the new, GOP WIN organization, says she hadn’t heard of the Dems’ version before. “Who knew? It’s just a different universe,” she says.

HOH was mightily disappointed that there would be no face-off, no winner-take-all showdown for the naming rights. After all, there are plenty of formidable women in each group.

Just wait, though, until there’s some mix-up with a reserved room or lunch table. Then we’ll find out if this town really is big enough for two winners.

Here’s a Cookie, Now Get to Work. President Bush, who’s trying to wrangle his caucus on immigration and, from the looks of it, not faring too well, might want to take note of a tactic one of his top officials is employing on Capitol Hill.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings might have hit upon a sweetly effective lobbying scheme. As she presses Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, the education chief presented the Hill’s “Big Four” — the chairmen and ranking members of the committees with jurisdiction over the bill — with cookies.

These weren’t just any old sweets, mind you. During the Monday meeting in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and ranking member Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.) and ranking member Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) chowed down on special apple-shaped cookies with “NCLB ASAP” emblazoned on them in colorful icing.

“It’s common knowledge that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” Spellings spokesman Trey Ditto tells HOH. “Secretary Spellings wanted to show Members from both sides of the aisle some Southern hospitality, and we hope they enjoyed the cookies just as much as we enjoy seeing No Child Left Behind working in schools all over the nation.”

Spellings commissioned the special cookies-with-a-message from Furin’s of Georgetown bakery. Maybe she could pass the number along to her boss, the president.

Alas, the word “immigration” is probably too long to fit on a cookie.


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