Obey’s Hot for Paris

Posted June 29, 2007 at 5:26pm

Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) is the rare exception to most of Washington, D.C.’s highbrow types who pretend they couldn’t care less about recently freed jailbird heiress Paris Hilton, because they have sooo much more important things to do. The House Appropriations chairman, it seems, can’t get enough of the sexy celebutante, dropping not one but two references to her last week on the House floor. [IMGCAP(1)]

Hilton can now add the Congressional Record to the list of periodicals chronicling her hijinks, although the usually weighty tome surely has more references to earmarks than, say, US Weekly does.

Last Wednesday, Obey dropped Hilton’s name as he spoke about the lack of “shared sacrifice” in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military members and their families are asked to sacrifice, Obey said, while “the rest of society we ask nothing except to worry about Paris Hilton and to worry about who wins the Super Bowl.”

Then on Thursday, Obey was back on the Paris express, referring to her in a speech opposing a proposal to reinstitute the Fairness Doctrine, which requires broadcasters to air equal time for hosts of opposing sides to controversial issues. “Rush and Sean are just about as important in the scheme of things as Paris Hilton,” he opined, accomplishing a celebrity three-fer by also dropping references to right-wing radio talkers Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.

That, as Paris would say, is hot.

Queen of the Hill. Susan Sweat just might be the first beauty queen who has to fit her royal duties around appropriations markups. The newly crowned Mrs. D.C. (that’s the version of Miss America for married ladies) is also the legislative director for Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Sweat tells HOH the title means she’ll have to perform the occasional obligation of the crown, but only when she’s not clocking busy days on the Hill. “It’s what you make of it,” she says of her upcoming reign, which entails fewer parade-float rides and ribbon-cutting ceremonies than Miss D.C.

Last Thursday, Sweat won the crown in a pageant that included interviews, swimwear and evening gown competitions. Sweat lives in Virginia but works in Washington, making her eligible for the title. Her husband, Maj. Scott Sweat, works in the Air Force legislative liaison office.

Next stop: the Mrs. America competition Sept. 5 in Tucson, Ariz., which is preceded by two weeks of photo ops and pageant-related activities.

Luckily for the senior staffer, that coincides perfectly with Congressional recess. Just don’t call her “Your Majesty.”

Grand Old Fiesta. How does the Senate’s top Republican celebrate quashing immigration reform legislation that would have legalized millions of Hispanic immigrants in the U.S.? By eating a heaping plate of tortilla chips and salsa, of course.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was spotted by an HOH tipster eating at popular Senate-side Mexican eatery La Loma on Thursday night, accompanied by his wife, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.

Just hours earlier, McConnell helped to deal what looks to be the death blow to a major immigration overhaul package in the Senate that was backed by immigrants’ rights groups.

A spokesman says the taco joint, usually packed with staffers enjoying margaritas and south-of-the-border fare, is a regular stop for the couple.

A frequent diner there herself, HOH understands McConnell’s affinity for the place: The salsa alone is so good it should be illegal.

Family Jewels. A guy’s got to be pretty confident in his masculinity to sport a glittery, silver-and-metallic-purple bracelet to work. Especially if he happens to work in the Senate — as a Senator.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) last week was spotted sporting a flashy, brilliant piece of bling that attracted quite a bit of attention, especially when he stepped into the bright lights of the Senate Radio-TV Gallery for a press conference following the big immigration vote on Thursday. “It was something a 7-year-old girl would wear,” one HOH spy said after catching sight of the jewelry when Vitter motioned with his bracelet-adorned arm as he made a particularly emphatic point.

A spokesman explains the bracelet was a homemade gift from Vitter’s 5-year-old son, Jack. Vitter apparently promised Jack he would wear it, and of course Dad made good, even if it meant showing off a glitzy accessory made of pipe cleaners in the notoriously conservative Capitol. Vitter’s staffers, though, weren’t sold on the new look. “We kinda were hoping it would fall off sometime this week,” the cringing spokesman tells HOH.

Forget Cereal. Jeremy Funk, the press secretary for liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, isn’t ashamed to drink a beer for breakfast, but one Democratic presidential candidate last week questioned his unconventional morning meal.

Funk, who was a staffer for then-Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), tells HOH he was at a bar at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Friday morning enjoying a fizzy adult beverage, when who should plop down next to him but Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.). Dodd took a look at Funk’s liquid repast. “Hmm, I don’t trust a guy drinking a beer at 8 a.m.,” Dodd opined, according to Funk, and ordered a bagel.

Funk says he just smiled and didn’t say a word.

Dodd, who’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, might want to note that many people consider beer, not bagels, to be the breakfast of champions.

Whipping Boy. Steve Stombres, chief of staff in the office of House Chief Deputy Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), is no stranger to vote-counting. Maybe that’s why he and his wife, Kristen, opened up the process of naming their newborn son to their two daughters, Katie and Ellie. Friends and family, too, contributed suggestions, but Stombres announced in an e-mail to pals that the name “James Richard” had prevailed (rejects included Han Solo and Chewbacca).

The newest Stombres was born June 26. Mom and baby are doing great, HOH hears.

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