Spoiling for a Tweet

Posted June 13, 2008 at 6:14pm

Get ready to rumble — there’s a Twitter fight shaping up between two Members of Congress. Reps. John Culberson (R-Texas) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) last week traded barbs over energy policy, and not in the usual forums such as speeches on the House floor or dueling press releases, but in posts on Twitter, the relatively new darling of the techno-geek class.

[IMGCAP(1)]Twitter is a “micro-blogging” network that allows users to send subscribers short updates on their whereabouts and doings (think: “On my way to Cap Lounge!” or “Heading to the floor to vote!”). Ryan and Culberson each have accounts, and they traded jabs at one another from the House floor during Thursday’s debate over energy policy.

Ryan blasted Culberson with this tweet: “ANWR would, after 20 years, reduce gas by only 2 cents a gallon. That’s not an energy plan,” referring to oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Culberson tweeted back: “I am glad we are having this high tech debate Tim — what is your source for this factoid? It is far too small to be believable.”

Snap!

The fight seemed to go over well with those, er, watching it. The network allows users who are “following” the Congressmen to read their posts. “If only debates on the floor were this lively!” one Twitter-er commented.

Ellen Miller, executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for technology-assisted openness in government, applauded the exchange and the ringside seats it offered other Twitter users. “It opens up the process and, in real time, allows people to engage in the debate,” she says.

Maybe the phrase “Take it on Twitter!” will replace “Take it outside!” for about-to-tussle Members.

Funny Money. It’s that time of year when Senators give us a peek inside their pocketbooks and wallets via their financial disclosure forms. HOH is confident that our hardworking colleagues are diligently poring through the records on the search for potentially newsworthy transactions. But let’s face it, HOH is in it for the oddball stuff. To wit, these funny nuggets:

— Sen. Kit Bond’s nuts are a gold mine. The Missouri Republican pulled in $772 in income from the “sale of chestnut crop” from the Forest Keeling Nursery.

— Appearances on Bill Maher’s show pay way better than those on David Letterman’s “The Late Show.” Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) reported passing on an $825 honoraria from Maher’s show to charity, while his Letterman gig only earned his charity of choice $200.

— Sen. Jim Bunning’s a big eater. The Kentucky Republican ate his way, aided only by his wife, through $1,474.46 worth of food during a weekend in West Palm Beach, Fla.

— Sen. Benjamin Cardin is a cheap date. The BWI Business Partnership doled out only $50 — which, of course, was donated to charity on Cardin’s behalf — for a speech from the Maryland Democrat. Most Senators earn far higher honorariums for their appearances.

On High(light) Alert. There are certain things in life that cannot possibly be handled without a little bit of help — like finding a good hair salon.

A hair dilemma of sorts hit the office of Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) on Thursday afternoon when an intern, new to Capitol Hill, needed advice on finding a capable yet reasonably priced salon. Enter Clay scheduler Karyn Long, who sent an e-mail to her fellow Democratic schedulers seeking guidance on behalf of the clueless intern.

With the subject line reading, “TOTALLY IRRELEVANT QUESTION, BUT IMPORTANT TO THE PERSON ASKING – – PLEASE DELETE IF THIS IS NOT OF INTEREST TO YOU,” Long described the intern’s hair care needs.

“She needs a partial foil and has not been able to locate anywhere close or with reasonable prices,” Long writes. “Any suggestions??? (of course your replies can totally wait until you finish taking care of your bosses — I know my priorities).”

Now, HOH believes hair care should be a top priority, and apparently plenty of House Democratic schedulers feel the same way. Clay spokesman Steven Engelhardt tells HOH that the office received more than 20 suggestions for quality coiffing near Capitol Hill.

“No word yet on where our intern will go for her upgraded, ‘new do,’” Engelhardt wrote in an e-mail to HOH. “Of course, we support good grooming and a strong fashion sense.”

Can You Say That to a Bishop? Testifying before a powerful Senate committee can be daunting, which is why those witness chairs facing the panel are often called the “hot seats.”

One witness last week found the chairs uncomfortable for another reason entirely — they’re too small, he says.

Moments before Senate Finance’s oversight hearing on U.S. trade preference programs began, witness Grant Aldonas, who’s a principal with trade organization Split Rock International, confided to a reporter that the seats were rather uncomfortable. “Either the chair has gotten smaller or my ass has gotten a lot bigger,” he said.

The comment may not have been so noteworthy if it weren’t for the fact that a priest from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was sitting right next to Aldonas when he made the naughty remark.

Sensei Update. Last week, HOH told you about Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s ambition to become an instructor of Budokon, the trendy-but-tough workout that blends martial arts and yoga.

It appears Jackson is continuing his training. An HOH tipster on Friday spotted the Illinois Democrat at an intense Budokon weekend workshop hosted by Cameron Shayne, who founded the workout in 2000.

Jay Heflin of CongressNow contributed to this report.

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