Life of the Party

Posted March 31, 2008 at 6:42pm

Looking ahead to the conventions in the Twin Cities and Denver this summer, HOH is leaving all the astute political observations aside for the moment to focus on the real question: Which town will party harder? The answer is … well, neither, although St. Paul and Minneapolis might win the edge among night owls.

[IMGCAP(1)]The Twin Cities aren’t usually late-night towns, locals tell HOH, but that might change for the influx of convention-goers if a proposed plan passes. Minnesota state Rep. Kurt Zellers, a Republican, is working on legislation to show his fellow elephants a good time. Zellers’ bill would allow local bars within a 10-mile radius of the Xcel Energy Center, the epicenter of the convention, to extend their closing hour from the usual 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. during the convention.

Though Zellers tells HOH that St. Paul and Minneapolis are used to hosting these kinds of major events — like the 1992 Super Bowl — the locals still appreciate an early bedtime. “Most Friday nights we do retire by 9:30, 10,” he said.

Local bar manager Dave Faunce agreed that Minnesota bar-hoppers are not of the late-night persuasion. “It might be kind of a Midwest thing,” he said.

Word on the Twin Cities’ streets is that some in the rival Democratic host city are planning to push similar legislation, but HOH hears that’s just not so. Jennifer Morris at the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses tells HOH that last call for city bars would remain at 2 a.m. during the convention.

“There have been no proposed changes, and there has been no one who has proposed anything like that,” she said.

Turning off the taps at 2 a.m. hasn’t been a problem for patrons booking mid-convention private parties at Denver’s Wynkoop Brewing Co., Wynkoop Banquet Director Mindy Lorens told HOH. The legendary politico watering hole, which was owned by the city’s mayor up until last year, plans to brew a special batch of beer to get the party hopping.

One proposed name for the convention special? “Donkey’s Ass Ale,” Lorens said.

Change of Byline, Not Heart. Former Rep. Chris Bell (D-Texas) is the guy best known for breaking the so-called ethics truce to file the complaint about then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) that ultimately led to DeLay’s political undoing. And now it looks — at least to some Texans — that the die-hard Democrat has done a political about-face.

In some editions of a community newspaper distributed in the Houston area, Bell was credited as the author of a column last week enthusiastically endorsing Republican Pete Olson to run for the seat now occupied by Democratic Rep. Nick Lampson, gushing that Olson would provide the same kind of “dynamic leadership” that DeLay once did. “Pete Olson’s leadership skills, experience and conservative values will further strengthen our conservative congressional representation,” Bell’s glowing column in the Examiner papers read.

Say what?

And in a truly “Freaky Friday” move, the conservative Republican columnist whose writings appear alongside Bell’s just happened that week to pen a complimentary column about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Turns out, some of the editions of the paper accidentally switched the bylines of Bell and his conservative counterpart, Steven Hotze.

Reached to comment about the switcheroo, Bell tells HOH he was amused, noting that the papers containing the erroneous bylines were distributed in the Fort Bend area — which is Olson’s stronghold. Bell joked that his endorsement might just be the kiss of death for the GOP candidate. “I think Barack Obama will recover, but Olson’s doomed,” Bell laughed.

Take Him Out to the Ballgame. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) isn’t the sort of politician who shows up for baseball only on Opening Day and watches a few innings from a luxurious suite. That was Davis braving the cold with 39,388 other fans at the debut of Nationals Park on Sunday night.

Davis and fellow Virginia Rep. Jim Moran (D) are sharing season tickets located six rows behind the Nationals dugout. Davis was working on Capitol Hill on Sunday afternoon and walked to the park with Moran — “a 12-minute walk from the Rayburn Building as long as nobody stops you,” he reported. Moran and Davis went home happy as the Nationals beat Atlanta 3-2 on a walkoff home run by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

“You’ve gotta love Zimmerman. He’s a UVA guy, which is where I went to law school,” Davis said, referring to the University of Virginia. But Davis said his favorite Nat is Nick Johnson, whose wife, Liz, used to work on Davis’ Oversight and Government Reform Committee staff.

Well-known as a political junkie, Davis also is quite the baseball fan. He is a veteran of the Republican Congressional baseball team, and jokes that he couldn’t retire, as he’s doing at the end of this term, until he got to play the annual summer game at the new park. His district also is home to the Potomac Nationals, a minor league affiliate of the team.

The Nats led the entire game on Sunday until a passed ball by catcher Paul Lo Duca, an offseason acquisition, tied the game at two in the ninth inning. “I was kind of pissed at Lo Duca,” Davis said. “I wish they had kept Brian Schneider, but I’ve already let my opinion known to the powers that be.”

Let’s Spend the Night Together. When it comes to the economy and the war and health care — not so much. But on the Rolling Stones — well, on that subject Democrats and Republicans can agree: They rock. Or is it that they roll?

Either way, fans from both sides of the aisle will be on hand at a screening of the new Martin Scorsese-directed Stones documentary tonight, hosted by the unlikely duo of David Brock and Grover Norquist.

The two are hosting a screening at the Regal theater in Gallery Place of “Shine a Light,” which turns the spotlight on the forever-young rockers, and even includes a brief clip of then-President Bill Clinton greeting the band. Film promoters approached Brock, the conservative-turned-liberal founder of Media Matters for America, and Norquist, the conservative head of Americans for Tax Reform, HOH hears.

“In a town where Republicans and Democrats rarely get satisfaction, the one thing that almost everyone can agree on is that they love the Rolling Stones,” says Eric Burns of Media Matters.

One of the President’s Men. Along with the hordes of cherry-blossom-obsessed tourists jamming Capitol hallways this week, expect to see a few familiar faces. Actor Robert Redford will be trading the views from his Sundance ranch for those from the Capitol today.

The blue-eyed legend is set to testify today at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment about arts funding, as part of an advocacy day for the National Endowment for the Arts. Slightly less legendary musician John Legend and actress Kerry Washington also will appear before the panel.

Leah Carliner, Daniel Heim and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.

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