Can You Hear Me Now?

Posted December 3, 2007 at 6:40pm

Rep. Tom Tancredo wasn’t turning a deaf ear to his GOP presidential campaign adviser Bay Buchanan when he was spotted by an HOH tipster Saturday night, wearing what appeared to be headphones — he actually was trying to hear her better. The Colorado Republican, who was dining with Buchanan on Saturday night in the corner booth at Ted’s Montana Grill in Crystal City, Va., looked like he might have been trying to listen to a football game or, perhaps was engrossed in a book on tape, instead of listening to his dining companion.

[IMGCAP(1)]But a spokesman tells HOH that the headphones are, in fact, a medical device for the Congressman’s mild tinnitus, a condition that leads to ringing in the ears. “It’s called a Neuromonics Oasis and it is produced for tinnitus relief,” Tancredo spokesman T.Q. Houlton says. He says the device is doctor-prescribed and that it helps the Congressman’s hearing. But it does have another convenient sound-blocking use. “It has another setting that blocks out the voices of staffers,” Houlton jokes.

POTUS Humorous. President Bush just loves to make fun of his sidekick, Vice President Cheney, and his reputation as an unemotional kind of guy. First there was the dig the president made that Cheney was dressing up as not-so-cuddly Darth Vader for Halloween. Then on Sunday night, Bush kept the yuks coming at the expense of his veep. During a video shown at the Kennedy Center Honors, Bush was shown greeting the KenCen’s honorees to a White House ceremony. Bush gestured to comedian Steve Martin, who received one of the medals, and said he hoped that Martin and Cheney would have a chance to meet that evening. “It’s about time those two wild and crazy guys got together,” the president joked.

Martin, you might remember, appeared with Dan Akroyd in a Saturday Night Live skit featuring two hapless, playboy Czech brothers who called themselves “two wild and crazy guys.”

Martin laughed; HOH thinks she might have detected a smile on Cheney’s face. Maybe.

Going Postal. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” famously keeps postal workers from delivering the mail. And nearly as reliably, Congress seems every week to approve a handful of bills naming post offices in honor of one local hero or another.

But exactly how long can lawmakers keep up this routine before they run out of post offices to name?

During the Thanksgiving recess, HOH had a little time on her hands to reflect on this worrisome quandary, and it appears there is no need for Members to fret.

It’ll probably be until the 496th Congress — in approximately 772 years, if Congress maintains its current pace.

According to a biennial Congressional Research Service report, in the 109th Congress, the most recent account, post office bills — 98 to be exact — accounted for about 20 percent of new public laws. In the 110th Congress, there have been 48 naming bills enacted to date.

Although Congress started naming postal facilities in individual bills in 1967 — honoring the late Rep. Charles Buckley (D-N.Y.), according to CRS — the practice only began to pick up pace in the 106th Congress, when lawmakers jumped from a rate of about 12 post offices per cycle to more than 50. In the 107th that rate fell to 46 post offices, then jumped to 89 in the 108th.

On average, that puts Congress at about 35 naming bills per session since the turn of the century — the majority of which name only one post office at a time.

In the U.S. Postal Service’s 2006 annual report, the most recent, it puts its tally of post offices at 27,318 — in addition to about 10,000 more branches, annexes and other facilities. Of course, that count could increase: In 2006 the Postal Service opened 39 new facilities.

Unfortunately, a Postal Service spokeswoman notes there is no official tally of those facilities dedicated by Congress to date, leaving HOH to estimate there remain around 27,000 or so post offices still up for grabs.

Among the buildings still available, the oldest post office in continuous operation — since 1814 in Castine, Maine — has yet to be dedicated to anyone in particular.

Takers, anyone?

Politics, Straight Up. Swanky, new-ish restaurant The Park at Fourteenth is jumping into the political ring with an event on Wednesday aimed at luring the town’s badge-wearing set. Republicans and Democrats alike are welcome at Politini, the name of the gathering as well as the evening’s signature drink. The Park is hoping to become a destination for political types, and HOH has to admit that complementary cocktails and snacks aren’t a bad way to start. But one humble suggestion for getting in with the “spin” crowd: The invite suggests attendees sport “After Work Attire,” but since political folks never stop working, there’s really no such thing. For an invite, e-mail info@theparkat14th.com.

Writer About Town. Congressional offspring and political darling in her own right Christine Pelosi is making the Washington, D.C., rounds this week promoting her new book, “Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders,” with a string of Hill-centric events. Tonight, she’ll be reading and signing copies of the book at Hunan Dynasty, the Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast watering hole popular with Democrats, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). Expect to see some of Pelosi’s old Hill colleagues and pals of her mom, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), including Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) noshing on the buffet. On Friday, Speaker Pelosi accompanied her daughter to a luncheon for the book at Democratic National Committee headquarters, and on Monday the author signed and read from the tome at the National Press Club.

Their Fair (and Balanced) Lady. The kid of a die-hard Democratic staffer and a staunchly neutral C-SPAN producer might have a political-identity crisis. Little Madeleine Claire O’Connell, born Friday to Dawn O’Connell, chief of staff to Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), and Ben O’Connell, a C-SPAN producer, isn’t worried about that just yet. For now, both parents are relieved that’s she’s happy and healthy — they say they’ll think about her political leanings later. Still, “I’m a little worried that Dawn parading Madeleine around in a ‘Tiny Democrat’ onesie is going to get me in trouble at the office,” frets her dad.

Her mom says delivering Madeleine gave her a new outlook on the legislative process. “Before Friday night, I thought pushing a political agenda was hard work,” she tells HOH.

Jennifer Yachnin contributed to this report.

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