Security Detail

Posted July 20, 2007 at 6:10pm

Twangy country music cult favorite Jerry Jeff Walker, who’s sometimes called the Jimmy Buffett of Texas, might not have felt entirely safe when he performed at Alexandria’s Birchmere earlier this month. And that just might have been because Rep. Rick Renzi wasn’t in the audience. The beefy Arizona Republican once did a stint as a bodyguard for the singer, HOH hears. [IMGCAP(1)]

Renzi filled in as a bodyguard for Walker when he played a gig at his alma mater, Northern Arizona University, during Renzi’s undergrad days in 1975. Renzi played football for the university, and Walker was playing at the campus gridiron dome, a spokeswoman tells HOH, when the now-Congressman was pressed into service.

Renzi, who’s facing federal investigations and a strong Democratic challenger next cycle, might want to dust off his résumé, just in case the country singer’s in need of some muscle again sometime soon.

Postcards From the Edge. Recipients of a letter sent last week by House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) might have done double-takes if they happened to look closely at the letter’s signature. Above Brady’s name on a “Dear Colleague” letter was a signature, but the scrawl sure wasn’t Brady’s John Hancock. Instead, the widely distributed missive appeared to be signed by the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.), who chaired the committee until she passed away in April.

Though Millender-McDonald was known for being outspoken, the missive certainly wasn’t sent from the beyond, a red-faced committee spokesman assured HOH. A telecommuting staffer used the wrong template to send out the e-mail, spokesman Kyle Anderson explains, resulting in the awkward gaffe.

Even more embarrassing, given the technical slip-up, was that the letter was an invitation to a technology-related event on how to create an “award-winning” Web site. Notified of the blunder in response to HOH queries, Brady was upset to learn about the error and is convening staff to come up with ways to make sure it isn’t repeated. “He wants to express his sincere respect for the late chairwoman … and apologize as a committee,” Anderson said.

One sharp-eyed House staffer who noticed the mistake was surprised but sympathetic. “Darn that cut-and-paste — it’ll get ya every time,” the staffer mused.

Kids Say the Darndest Things. With his signature thatch of silver hair, blindingly white teeth and omnipresence on the Sunday talk-show circuit, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) is certainly a well-known commodity. But it hasn’t always been that way.

As a freshman Senator, the then-30-year-old Biden suffered from a profile so low that Capitol Hill security once tried to kick him off the elevators reserved for Members, the Delaware Democrat confesses in his new book, “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics.”

The real icing on the humble pie came, Biden writes in the book, when then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger not only didn’t know who he was, but once he learned proceeded to mispronounce his name “Bid-den.”

Biden, who was silver-tongued even back then (though not as silver-haired), responded in kind by addressing Kissinger as “Secretary Dulles.”

No Letter Left Behind. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) not only likes left-leaning politics, he also apparently likes lefty writing. On Thursday, Reid was on the floor of the Senate discussing letters he’s received in support of judicial nominee Leslie Southwick. At one point, Reid strained to read some of the writing on one letter, explaining that it was difficult to decipher, having been written by a southpaw.

But like the seasoned pol he is, Reid was careful to avoid offending his lefty constituency and followed up a bit later with a clarification. Just in case his left-handed friends were up in, er, arms.

“I want the record to reflect, I love people who write left-handed,” Reid said. “I have a son who is left-handed, and there was nothing meant to disparage left-handers when I said that.”

Good thing Reid added that disclaimer; otherwise, he might have to expect a whole mailbag full of illegibly scrawled letters.

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