Armey’s Off the Wall

Posted March 12, 2008 at 6:42pm

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) hasn’t worked in the Capitol since 2003, when he retired from the chamber. And since Democrats won the majority in 2006, there’s been even less of Armey around the Hill.

[IMGCAP(1)]That’s because the former leader’s portrait was removed from its spot on the wall in the “Richard K. Armey Room” — a room

now part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) suite of offices.

While it seems fitting that Pelosi wouldn’t want a towering rendering of Armey — who helped engineer the Republican revolution — peering at staffers and visitors, the removal of the portrait didn’t sit so well with its subject.

Armey, who’s now a lobbyist, tells HOH he recently dropped by his namesake room during a trip to the Capitol, and was none too thrilled to find his portrait gone. At least, though, the plaque designating the room in his honor was still there — for now.

The former leader tells HOH that he happened to run into Pelosi just as she was leaving her offices. “‘Madam Speaker,’ I said, ‘Are you going to take my name off the door?’ and she said ‘Not yet,’” Armey tells HOH. “And I felt pretty encouraged by that.”

But he’s not entirely convinced that there isn’t a movement afoot by Democrats to remove all vestiges of his reign. Armey says he then reminded Pelosi that since the room was named by an act of Congress in 2003, that it would take a similar act to rename it. Pelosi, Armey says, seemed well-aware of that.

Armey’s portrait was removed from the Armey Room — which is room H-236 of the Capitol — when the majority changed and Pelosi moved into the digs that were once home to then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), a Pelosi aide tells HOH. All the artwork was removed and put into storage while the rooms were repainted.

If Pelosi had wanted Armey’s portrait back in the room, she would have had to specifically request it.

“His name is still on the door,” the Pelosi aide says. “It’s still the Armey Room.”

Armey, meanwhile, is hoping that his portrait will wind up in the new Capitol Visitor Center.

Camera-Ready Coleman. Sen. Norm Coleman may have taken a shine to President George W. Bush’s policies, but when it comes to his own complexion, the Minnesota Republican apparently likes it matte.

Coleman spent $73 at Nordstrom Direct for “makeup,” according to Federal Election Commission reports, a tidbit that the Democratic blog Minnesota Monitor reported earlier this week.

Coleman spokesman LeRoy Coleman (of no relation to the Senator) tells HOH that the purchase was for compact powder for the Senator’s TV appearances — which he says is just another office supply for a political candidate. “In this media age of 24-hour news, this is about as standard as an earpiece,” the spokesman says.

Still, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee couldn’t hide its gleeful tone in responding to Coleman’s cover-up purchase. “Norm Coleman spent $73 on makeup, but it’s going to take a lot more than concealer to try to cover up his pro-Bush record,” joked DSCC spokeswoman Hannah August.

Affleck Pulls a Jolie. Temporary Washingtonian Ben Affleck might be going where Angelina Jolie went before him. The hunky actor, in town to shoot “State of Play” with Russell Crowe, was spotted leaving the Council on Foreign Relations (actress and baby collector Jolie is already a member) on Wednesday afternoon.

A spy tells HOH that Affleck met with former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson to talk about “all things Africa” — which happens to be one of Jolie’s favorite topics, too.

Vote-O-Rama? Most Senators and Senate aides are dreading the vote-o-rama planned in the chamber over the next few days: Possible bummers include raw nerves, endless scrambling to the floor and the chance that each vote will be turned into a 30-second political ad on the presidential campaign trail.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), however, seems to be the lone Senator who’s truly thrilled at the prospect. The dozens of votes, most of which are expected to be on obscure procedural motions, will give the former presidential candidate a chance to boost his attendance record.

Brownback on Wednesday seemed positively gleeful about the upcoming maelstrom of votes. “I’m going to get my percentages up!” he crowed to HOH, pumping his arms in the air in the universal gesture of celebration.

Brownback’s voting record took a hit during his unsuccessful campaign for the GOP presidential nomination. According to a washingtonpost.com database, Brownback has missed 28.2 percent of votes, making him the Senator with the seventh-worst attendance rate and putting him just behind busy lady Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whose missed-vote percentage is 29.2 percent.

Brownback estimates that the vote blitz this week will help him boost his numbers quickly. “I’m going to go up, like, ten points,” he cheered, likening the bump to a high school senior boosting his GPA in order to get into a good college.

Brownback won’t be the only one pumping up his numbers: Clinton and fellow presidential hopefuls Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are also expected to drop by the Capitol to cast votes.

‘Dear Abby’ Standing By. If House Members or their staffers had any pressing personal problems — an overbearing mother-in-law, say, or a moody teen — they got a chance at some expert advice. Jeanne Phillips, also known as “Dear Abby” or Abigail Van Buren, was on hand during a House Rules Committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon and offered her personal services.

Phillips was a guest of House Rules ranking member David Dreier (R-Calif.). The two met at the annual Gridiron Club dinner the Saturday before, HOH hears, and when Drier heard that the Los Angeles-area resident was interested in visiting the Capitol, he offered to squire her around.

After Dreier introduced the well-known advice guru, who sat with Dreier’s staff on the dais during the hearing, the neatly coiffed columnist stood up and announced with a smile: “I’m here for you.”

The hearing room, filled with staffers and reporters otherwise focused the budget, broke out in laughter.

Vicki Needham and George Cahlink of CongressNow and Erin P. Billings contributed to this report.

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