Karmic Debt-Free

Posted June 19, 2007 at 6:46pm

If you’ve thought Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has been looking a bit relieved lately, don’t think it has anything to do with his crazy-in-love sorta-newlywed status. Or the fun he seems to be having as a long-shot peacenik candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Nope, Kucinich has the look of a man who’s paid off a debt. The Representative’s most recent financial disclosure forms reveal that he has finally, after more than two decades, paid off a loan from a longtime friend, actress Shirley MacLaine. [IMGCAP(1)]

A spokeswoman confirmed that the loan, which had shown up in previous financial disclosures, had been paid off in full.

MacLaine, of course, aside from being a Friend of Dennis, is the flame-haired Hollywood legend whose roles have spanned from playing Jack Lemmon’s love interest in 1960’s “The Apartment” to an Oscar-winning turn in “Terms of Endearment” to playing Cameron Diaz’s saucy aunt in 2005’s “In Her Shoes.” She’s also known for her New-Agey belief in reincarnation.

The two are so tight that MacLaine is the godmother to Kucinich’s daughter, Jackie, a reporter for The Hill newspaper. And her friendship with Kucinich has continued in recent years, with MacLaine attending the Congressman’s 2005 wedding.

The original amount of the loan was unclear, but as of 2004, the Congressman owed the past-life aficionado just more than $15,000.

Maybe Kucinich incurred the debt to MacLaine in a previous incarnation.

A Little Help From Alumni. As the showdown between Republicans and Democrats draws near — we’re talking baseball here, natch, not earmarks — the GOP is breaking out some big guns. In the hopes of continuing their six-year winning streak against the Democrats in the Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, Republicans are tapping some all-stars from their alumni ranks to give them a boost at the 46th game, which takes place Monday at RFK Stadium.

Today, during the Republicans’ practice session, former Rep. (and former NFL star) Steve Largent (R-Okla.) will be on hand to pitch batting practice, HOH hears. And on Friday, the Republican team will get a pep talk from its former longtime manager, ex-Rep. Mike Oxley (Ohio).

Democrats, though, maintain that they are unfazed by their rivals’ preparations. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), the team manager, tells HOH that his dugout doesn’t need an injection of boldfacers to get pumped for the big game.

“We don’t need a pep talk,” he said. “We don’t need any more motivation than the fact that we’re hungry for a ‘W.’”

The apparently confident manager couldn’t help but indulge in just a bit of (relatively gentle) trash-talking, conceding that although the GOP team was “solid,” they were perhaps “a little long in the tooth” compared to the Dems’ roster, which includes an influx of younger freshman starters.

Ouch.

Doyle also noted that Largent threw a batting practice for Democrats last year.

“And we still lost,” he recalls. “Maybe it’s a jinx.”

What Part of R&R Doesn’t He Get? Just because a guy’s had a little brain surgery, everyone expects him to be laid up. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) might have gone under the knife July 13 to remove a benign pituitary tumor, but he’s apparently raring to get back to work in Washington.

Coburn spokesman John Hart says his boss is doing well and looking to resume full-time duties “hopefully no later than the end of the month.” But don’t be surprised to see the irrepressible Senator back in the halls of the Capitol any day now. Staff is privately expecting him back at work any second, HOH hears.

Quick, look busy.

Poetry and Motions. The “poet lobbyist” strikes again. A Latin teacher from Birmingham, Ala., whose poetic ode to the obscure legislative procedure known as cloture landed in The Washington Post, is back on the Hill with more rhyming rhetoric.

Kaye Reyes tells HOH she’s hand-delivering poems to Senators’ offices this week in the hopes of convincing them to ice a potential immigration bill, which she opposes. Her poem “Cloture” was quoted in a piece by Post scribe Dana Milbank on the topic.

Now she’s distributing a ditty titled “Second Chance” to those who voted for cloture. In part, the poem reads “Senator, there’s still time to redeem/Your back-home Constituents’ esteem.” Catchier, maybe, than the e-mail screeds (from constituents on both sides of the issue) pouring into Hill offices.

Reyes says she hopes that delivering her opinion in verse will help it stand out from the masses. “When I visit offices and say, ‘I have a poem for the Senator,’ I think I get a better reception,” she says. And her hero on the issue, home-state Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), is getting mash poems, including “Sessions the Sensation” and “Super Sessions.”

Phone Service. The race to replace the late Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) is getting interesting, with one candidate offering a populist platform that just could be the “chicken in every pot” of its generation.

State Rep. Colin Simpson (R), who was trying to become one of the three finalists from which Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal (D) will choose, made a bold promise during an “audition” before Wyoming’s Republican committee. “You know what the most frequent question in Wyoming is?” asked the son of former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), according to the Casper Star-Tribune. “‘Can you hear me now?’ My first act as Senator would be to improve cell phone service.”

Department of Useless Advice. Senate staffers are chuckling about a memo sent Tuesday from Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer to all Senate offices. Not because of the subject, which is the rather serious topic of crime prevention on the Hill, but because of the sheer superfluousness of one of the tips for staying safe that the former police chief recommends. “Don’t flash large amounts of cash or other tempting targets like expensive jewelry or clothing,” the memo warns.

“Um, OK, no problem,” one staffer laughed to HOH. “Has this guy seen my paycheck?”

David M. Drucker and Matthew Murray contributed to this report.

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