A-Gore-ing Fans

Posted October 12, 2007 at 6:33pm

Amid all the praise being heaped on newly minted Nobel laureate Al Gore are plenty of plaudits from his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, and HOH couldn’t help but notice that some of the gushing seemed a teensy bit self-involved. Like the lottery winner who suddenly realizes how many friends he has, Gore and his energy-efficient glow were attracting plenty of Hill-type baskers.

[IMGCAP(1)]Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who’s known for never shying away from an opportunity at scoring some ink, sent a letter reminding readers that he was for Gore before being for Gore was cool. “While serving in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1980s, I remember a young, gutsy Congressman who criticized the Reagan administration for ignoring the effects of greenhouse gases,” says Schumer, sounding much like that guy in college who claimed he totally knew that Dave Matthews was going to be huge when he saw him play a garage party. “That Member of Congress was Al Gore, and today his perseverance has been recognized across the globe.”

Even the former veep’s nemesis in the global warming battles, Sen. James Inhofe (the Oklahoma Republican once called the phenomenon a “hoax”) managed to get in a dig while sort of complimenting the Nobel Prize winner. “I congratulate former Vice President Al Gore, even though we disagree on the issue,” Inhofe said in a statement. Inhofe went on to say that he hopes Gore uses his prize money for “something useful” like malaria shots or clean-water projects in Africa — and not, as he’s likely to do, for some silly anti-climate-change effort.

And spirits were high within Gore’s inner circle and the alumni club of former staffers now scattered around town. One former Gore guy dismissed all the love emanating from the Hill. “The only people who could legitimately claim any credit for this are the five Supreme Court justices who, in their infinite wisdom, decided he wouldn’t be president,” the former staffer said. “If he had been, he wouldn’t have won the Nobel Prize.”

We guess that makes the Nobel the best consolation prize around.

Comedic Release? Senate Republican staffers were wincing on Friday when their House counterparts on the Energy and Commerce Committee debuted a gag-filled press release poking fun at Democrats’ stance on a controversial children’s health bill.

The committee minority staff posted the jokey release, which featured characters from the smart-alecky animated show “The Simpsons.” Under the headline “Bipartisanship on SCHIP” was a purely fictional account of debate over the very real legislation. “Republican Senate hopeful Montgomery Burns today joined with Mayor Joe Quimby, D-Springfield, to support the Senate’s gazillion-dollar SCHIP bill,” it read, referencing characters from the show.

An asterisk denoted that the facts contained in the release weren’t technically, well, facts. “Actual facts and events may vary, but really, how much?” it asked.

While it might have squeezed a few laughs out of bored-on-a-Friday-afternoon readers, Senate GOP staffers tell HOH they weren’t so amused at the har-har humor from across the Capitol Dome. “Somehow they managed to look bitter instead of funny,” one Senate GOP aide said in a Simon Cowell-esque review. “That took a lot of talent.”

Battling the Bottle. Since taking over Congress and launching their Green the Capitol campaign, Democrats have taken on the Hill’s power plant and plan a switch to energy-efficient light bulbs. One final frontier in the effort to make the Hill a more eco-conscious place: those wasteful water bottles that are the thorn in many an environmentalist’s side.

The Hill is littered with scads of the earth-unfriendly plastic bottles that recently have attracted criticism from the green brigade. Critics claim they clog landfills and waste energy in their shipping and manufacture. Most offices stock them; they line the dais and witness table of nearly every committee meeting; and the cloakrooms in both chambers offer them to Members.

While the Capitol has long had a recycling program, House administrators admittedly haven’t quite figured out how to green the water supply. Despite HOH’s best attempts at finding out just how many bottles of water are shipped into the Capitol complex, the number was deemed unquantifiable by the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, since the bottles come in from so many sources. “These vendors range from those running vending machines across the complex to the food services operations in the cafeterias to individual Members’ offices,” said Jeff Ventura, director of communications for the CAO.

The green campaign is looking into conducting an audit of the Capitol’s bottled-water use and expects to boost its recycling program’s visibility. And the bottle-besotted Congress doesn’t look to be going in the direction of San Francisco, whose mayor recently banned city-government purchases of bottled water. But Ventura also points out that getting people to drink D.C. tap water can be a tough sell. Not surprising, since some bathrooms around the Capitol campus boast decidedly unappetizing do-not-drink signs near the faucets.

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