Department of Keep Your Day Jobs

Posted January 23, 2008 at 7:04pm

The entourage of striking comedy writers who visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday are (at least when they’re not on the picket line) paid to be funny. But a few Members tried to take on the professionals at their own game.

[IMGCAP(1)]To bring attention to their plight and explain their position, writers from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” staged a mock debate in the Rayburn House Office Building

between themselves and the studio executives with whom they’re in a dispute; former White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers was moderating. Writers played the parts of both sides, and they managed to pull off plenty of hilarious bits that had reporters, staffers and Members in giggling fits, parodying themselves as precocious nerds with intellectual affectations and the studio execs as slick Scrooges more concerned with their private jets than artistic expression.

Not to be outdone, several Members who showed up to support the writers shared some of their own comedic stylings. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) donned a giant fake beard and claimed solidarity with some in the entertainment business who are letting their facial hair grow until a deal is struck. Then she questioned her own writers — presumably her staff — wondering if she had just had “my Dukakis moment.”

[IMGCAP(2)]Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), too, sounded like he was trying out material for a stand-up act, citing his own experience as a guest on “The Daily Show” and “Colbert.” “I think if I found Osama Bin Laden and brought him to George Bush in shackles, the thing I would be known for in my district is being on those shows,” he told the crowd.

Ba-dum-bum.

Keeping the gong-show vibe rolling, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) tried to make fun of Cohen while being funny himself (whew!). “Listening to Cohen trying to sound hip is making my hair hurt,” Weiner said. And, later, Weiner whipped off another one-liner. About two lines into the mock debate, one of the writers playing a studio executive expressed disappointment that the real-life Capitol didn’t resemble what he’d seen in the film “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

“I’m a little disappointed in the lack of strippers,” the writer bemoaned.

Weiner, who was sitting behind the writers, called out, “They’re in the Longworth Building!”

Blunt’s Homeric Rhetoric. Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s (R) announcement that he wouldn’t be seeking a second term surprised many people, but his speech announcing the decision may have sounded oddly familiar to some listeners.

It appears the House Minority Whip’s son might have drawn inspiration for his speech from an unlikely source: the animated series “The Simpsons.”

The blogosphere was abuzz after Blunt held a press conference Tuesday to let everyone know of his intentions.

“With the knowledge that we have achieved virtually everything that I set out to accomplish and more, I will not seek a second term in the upcoming election,” Blunt told the crowd. “Because I feel we have changed what I wanted to change in the first term, there is not the same sense of mission for a second.”

Almost immediately, bloggers linked Blunt’s statement to a Season 7 episode of “The Simpsons” in which Homer Simpson goes head to head with his new neighbor, former President George H.W. Bush. In the show, wayward son Bart shreds a draft of the memoir the fictionalized Bush is penning. The last line of the book reads, “Since I’ve achieved all my goals as president in one term, there was no need for a second.”

History buffs might recall that Bush actually was, um, defeated when he tried to seek a second term.

So far, both Blunts are staying mum on whether Homer and his gang served as the muse for Matt Blunt’s prose. But if the Blunts are anything like their conservative brethren, they may just point to former first lady Barbara Bush, who once called “The Simpsons” “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Keeps Going and Going. Energy-drink maker Living Essentials is sending a wake-up call to former President Bill Clinton — literally. The company sent a case of the company’s 5-Hour Energy shot beverage, after the former commander in chief was caught on camera nodding off at a church service honoring Martin Luther King Jr. “Everyone needs help staying awake at times. Even former presidents,” company spokesman Carl Sperber says.

And the maker of supposedly energy-boosting elixirs didn’t forget who it was dealing with. In an effort to remain politically correct, it split Clinton’s case into equal parts of berry, lemon lime and orange-flavored beverages.

Briefly Quoted

“I thought making movies was slow. I’ve learned Washington is slower.”

— Actress Marcia Cross, appearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to talk about legislation banning “drive-through” mastectomies.

Matthew Murray contributed to this report.

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