Rescue Me, Part 1

Posted July 16, 2007 at 6:33pm

Tim McClintock, who has fixed many a desk and hung many a picture during his 30 years in the Senate woodworking shop, recently showed he’s also pretty handy at saving lives. On July 6, McClintock was walking past Russell Park on his way home when he noticed a man floating face down in the park’s pond. The man flailed a bit, then was motionless. [IMGCAP(1)]

McClintock tells HOH that although he thought the guy could just have been playing a prank, he immediately waded into the pond to check it out. He flipped the guy over, realized he wasn’t breathing and performed CPR until the man began gasping for air. A Capitol Police officer was soon on the scene, and he and McClintock pulled the man to dry land; then an ambulance arrived.

A Capitol Police spokeswoman confirmed the tale and said the unidentified drowning man was thought to be homeless.

The pal of McClintock’s who informed HOH of his derring-do noted that the self-effacing woodworker isn’t one to toot his own horn, much less claim credit for saving a life. And true to form, McClintock downplayed his role in the rescue, saying he’s no hero. “A hero is someone who risks their own well-being or life,” he tells HOH. “The worst that was going to happen to me is that my feet would get wet.”

McClintock says he heard the man has been released from the hospital.

Rescue Me, Part 2. Getting trapped in a conference room at work and being rescued by an intern might be embarrassing enough, but imagine if your colleagues learned about it via a breaking-news alert.

Pity poor Drew Berky, an aide to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), whose misadventure began when he was accidentally locked in a Hart Senate Office Building conference room on Friday morning. After a 20-minute stint, he was eventually freed by a passing intern. And how does HOH know this?

A fellow Coburn staffer decided to share the news of his colleague’s escapade in an unusual way: An unidentified staffer wrote an account of the incident and e-mailed it to Coburn aides as a fake Roll Call breaking news alert. The quite convincingly written “news” story, which was sent to HOH, included dramatic details that may or may not be true, including confirmation by Capitol Hill police. “An anonymous source confirmed that Homeland Security Committee staffer, Drew Berky, an aide to Senator Tom Coburn, (R-OK) was indeed trapped and that an intern released him after the 20 minute ordeal,” the fake alert read.

HOH hears that at least a few Coburn staffers were fooled by the spoof.

Coburn spokesman John Hart wouldn’t say which staffer faked the Roll Call news alert, but he confirmed (really!) that Berky was accidentally trapped. “I’d say the Darwin Award here would go to the Architect of the Capitol for putting the lock on the outside of an interior door,” Hart said.

Maybe in addition to Congressional identification badges, staffers should start carrying an emergency stash of trail mix — and a reporter’s notepad.

Kaptur’s Claws Celeb. Somewhere, the powerful sofa-arm lobby is furious, after losing a battle last week in the House Appropriations Committee. But on Wednesday, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) no doubt appeased some of her fat-cat supporters by introducing an amendment aimed at correcting the misconception that public-housing residents have to declaw their cats.

The measure, which the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies adopted, would urge HUD to notify public-housing developers that declawing — which many kitty lovers claim is a painful and disabling process for their four-legged friends — isn’t required by law.

Kaptur spokesman Steve Fought underscored the importance of the measure, but he chastised HOH for “trying to get me to say something catty” about it. Eventually, Fought relented, and coughed up a fur ball of a quote: “Were were glad it passed the committee without a catfight.”

Meow.

Don’t Mess With Vermont. Vermonters are getting a bit green in the face defending their state in the fallout from the contest naming the official hometown of the fictional family in “The Simpsons.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (D-Ore.) faux outraged complaint about Springfield, Vt., not Springfield, Ore., winning the contest is just a bad case of sour Oregon cherries, Rep. Peter Welch claims. The Vermont Democrat dashed off a letter Monday after DeFazio cried foul to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying it was “pure Vermont pride” that carried the Green Mountain State over the top, not ballot stuffing. (Oregon’s Springfield placed third in the contest, behind Illinois’ city of the same name.)

Taking a cue from the Simpsons’ goody two-shoes neighbor Ned Flanders, Welch extended the proverbial helping of maple syrup to DeFazio, inviting him to Saturday’s movie premiere in Springfield, Vt. While the Congressman’s office hasn’t heard back yet on whether DeFazio will take him up on the offer, HOH is sure his staff is enjoying the hand-delivered Vermont-based fare that accompanied the letter, including a single bottle of Long Trail Ale to drown their sorrows in and a Cabot cheddar cheese sampler.

Better Than ‘Cats.’ In the fickle theater world, one day your name’s in lights, and the next you’re playing dinner theaters in the ’burbs. The same’s true in politics. Just ask former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who’s now no longer “Mr. Speaker” with scads of minions, but just another member of the minority.

Exhibit A: At Hastert’s annual Farmers’ Picnic on Friday, the headliner was none other than … the drumroll please … Rep. Frank Lucas.

Nothing against the Oklahoma Republican, it’s just that he lacks the star power of previous speakers at the annual event, such as Mississippi Gov. and GOP darling Haley Barbour. Susan Davis and David M. Drucker contributed to this report.

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