The Bus Stops Here

Posted June 11, 2008 at 6:34pm

Need a tow truck? Before calling AAA, you might want to consider dialing up Rep. Melissa Bean. HOH spies say the Illinois Democrat, clad in a suit and heels, led a team of rescuers to push a bus of partygoers out of a ditch in front of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s home — all in the midst of Tuesday evening’s driving rainstorm.

[IMGCAP(1)]The trouble started when a bus carrying VIP attendees of Rockefeller’s soiree in honor of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) attempted to pull out of Rockefeller’s driveway in Northwest Washington. Bean was in a car behind the bus with a staffer when it became obvious the bus was stuck, with one of its wheels spinning.

Bean, spies tell HOH, hopped out of the car and sprang into action. First, she led a few of the passengers who had alighted from the bus — all guys, our spies say — in collecting nearby rocks to put under the bus’ tire to gain traction. When that didn’t work, Bean directed the team to start pushing, even throwing her own strength behind the massive bus. After five tries, and as thunder clapped and lightning crashed, the bus was free.

The bus passengers seemed amazed to see the Congresswoman, with whom they’d just been mingling at the swanky Rockefeller pad, getting soaked by the rain and sweaty from the effort.

Bean’s chief of staff, John Michael Gonzalez, though, wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear the story of his boss’s rescue mission. “It sounds like it was a little bit like our staff meetings,” Gonzalez tells HOH. “She tells 15 people what to do and afterwards, something big starts moving quickly.”

Arrested Development. When A-lister Jennifer Lopez made her oh-so-secretive visit to the office of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Tuesday, she was accompanied by a security detail and drew the attention of throngs of camera-phone-toting fans. The scene was a stark contrast to the experience most constituents have at Member offices, which usually involves shaking hands with a few staffers and signing a visitor book.

But things could be worse. Take the case of 49-year-old Earl Warner.

At about 8 p.m. on Monday, Warner entered the Longworth House Office Building and asked a Capitol Police officer how to get to Obama’s office. Apparently, something about Warner’s behavior seemed suspicious, because the officer decided to run a background check to see if there were any warrants out for Warner’s arrest.

That was bad news for Warner. The search revealed that a D.C. Superior Court judge had issued a bench warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear on a possession of an open container of alcohol charge. So, the officer arrested Warner — who, according to police, has no fixed address — and he was taken to Capitol Police headquarters for processing.

Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a Capitol Police spokeswoman, didn’t give HOH specific details as to what prompted the officer to run the warrant check, but she did say that “an individual’s actions … could prompt an officer to investigate a person further.”

HOH thinks Warner’s bad experience is a good lesson: Make sure you don’t have any warrants out for your arrest if you ask a police officer how to track down the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Or just put out a few hit singles and waltz right in.

Hot Dogs Not Relished. Spotted in the Rayburn House Office Building garage: two very hot Spots. An HOH tipster tells us that on Tuesday and Wednesday, a dog owner left his or her two pups in a muggy car on the garage’s C-level near the pedestrian bridge to Rayburn. While all the windows were mercifully down and the hatchback of the car up, the two small, brown pooches in a crate in the back seat nevertheless had to brave the un air-conditioned climes. Late in the afternoon on Wednesday, a woman was seen taking the dogs out for a walk. Still, our dog-friendly tipster beseeches the owner to leave the pups at home — or at least bring them into the air-conditioned office.

C’mon, throw them a bone.

Moms’ Night Out. Janine Turner is best known for playing a cute Alaskan pilot on the series “Northern Exposure,” but she came to Washington this week because of another, less celebrated role: that of a single mom. The actress and mom-champion honored two of Congress’ own single moms Tuesday night. Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas) were recipients of the “Holding Her Head High Award,” named after Turner’s new book, which profiles single moms who have overcome obstacles while raising their children.

But when asked about the difficulties of single motherhood while serving in Congress, Tauscher was a bit short with HOH. She said it wasn’t any more difficult than being a father, noting that men have been doing it for years.

Granger, though, didn’t seem to agree. Granger and her husband divorced in the 1970s, leaving her to raise three young children on her own, so the Congresswoman knows all about the sometimes messy challenges of single motherhood. She recalled one day when she put the children to bed for a nap, thinking she would have a break from mommy duties to do some work. Granger told HOH that she returned to find her children had finger-painted all over the room. Granger ran a business while raising her kids, and waited until her children were grown to run for Congress.

Unlike the rest of the guests, who were practically suffocating in the sweltering heat under a tent on the patio of the Sewall- Belmont House, Turner said she actually enjoys sticky 90-degree days.

“Oh, I’m from Texas. I love this weather!” she said.

Music In the Air. The warm weather must have put Members in a melodic mood because several have introduced bills this week honoring musicians.

On Monday, the House adopted legislation honoring blues legend Bo Diddley, who died on June 2 of heart failure. Then on Tuesday, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) introduced a resolution to make September “Gospel Music Heritage Month,” recognizing the genre’s contributions to American culture.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) also got in on the act, introducing a bill honoring country singer Toby Keith’s commitment to the armed forces. The legislation notes that the Oklahoma native has entertained more than 135,000 military members on six USO tours, and often hands out free concert tickets (and free meals at his restaurants) to members of the military.

While Cole and Keith have never met, the Congressman — who lives less than 15 miles away from the singer — got inspired to introduce the resolution after he read a story in an Oklahoma newspaper about how the singer’s April 24 USO concert in Kandahar, Afghanistan, was interrupted by mortar fire.

“Although the troops have been hearing his hit ‘I Love this Bar,’ our office is so proud of our hometown hero that we hope he’ll be singing, ‘I love this bill,” Cole spokeswoman Liz Eddy told HOH.

Melissa Giaimo contributed to this report.

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