Heard on the Hill: Waiting for Dave

Posted September 8, 2008 at 6:42pm

By the end of the Republican convention in the Twin Cities, even the most die-hard GOPer was ready to go home. But for one planeful of passengers trying to leave the Minneapolis airport Friday, one man stood in their way.

[IMGCAP(1)]Staffers from the Republican National Committee and the campaign of Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), as well as Republican delegates, were

among the passengers sitting on the tarmac, waiting for wheels up, when the airplane’s pilot announced that the plane was waiting for a passenger to arrive before it could depart, an HOH tipster says.

The delay might have been irritating, but still, some of the folks on board must have been wondering just who was this tardy — and clearly important — passenger. Surely hearts must have thrilled at the possibilities … Was it Rudy? Fred? Grover?

Before long, the waited-for traveler made his appearance: It was none other than Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a favorite punching bag for conservatives. Obey took his seat in the first-class section, and the plane was soon on its way, our spy says.

And speaking of political types making that long trip home: An HOH operative spotted embattled Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens making his way back to Washington on a Friday flight. Stevens, who’s facing corruption charges, might not be his party’s favorite son. But you wouldn’t know it by his seat number — the Alaskan snagged seat 1A.

You Are What You Drink. In this contentious election season, Republicans and Democrats don’t just take opposite sides of most policy issues; they’re also split on where to eat, what bars to frequent and what newspaper to read.

The Liaison Capitol Hill, the swanky, recently renovated spot on New Jersey Avenue Northwest, is capitalizing on the city’s partisan mood with a special “Pick Your Party” package geared toward out-of-towners seeking to feel like political insiders.

For $219, guests get a guide to restaurants and bars favored by the political party of their choice (Democratic picks include Busboys and Poets and the Pour House, while Republicans favor Old Ebbitt Grille and the Bush twin hangout Smith Point), along with a picnic basket full of “American culinary delights” and a “Not for Tourists” city guide. And to ensure folks stay on top of the issues, Democrats receive a copy of the Washington Post, while Republicans get the Washington Times.

General Manager Dani Elhachem tells HOH that the Liaison already has received hundreds of reservations for the package, which is part of the hotel’s effort to shake things up on Capitol Hill.

“There’s nothing stuffy about our hotel,” Elhachem said. “Capitol Hill in general has been looking for something fun and different and new and exciting, and I think we’re pretty confident that we’re doing that.”

Also using the Republican-Democrat split as marketing fodder is the Source by Wolfgang Puck. The swanky restaurant created special election-themed dishes based on the flavors of Illinois and Arizona, the home states of presidential contenders Sens. Barack Obama (D) and John McCain (R), respectively.

There’s the Chicago-style half smoke, a hot dog featuring mustard, sweet pickle relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, dill pickle and peppers, reminiscent of Obama’s hometown. Seeking something with a little more southwestern flavor a la McCain’s home state? Try the baby back ribs, which come with a special honey-chipotle sauce. Both dishes are priced at $14 each and are available during dinner hours in the restaurant’s lounge.

And don’t worry about betraying your party bona fides — you can try the dish of your rival party.

Nanny-Turned-Ambassador. It seems all those trips to Washington have paid off for Fran Drescher, the actress with the nasal voice best known for her 1990s sitcom, “The Nanny.”

The State Department on Monday named Capitol Hill fixture Drescher as its newest public diplomacy envoy, which will see her traveling abroad to promote U.S. diplomacy efforts. Drescher, a survivor of uterine cancer, will travel to Romania, Hungry, Kosovo and Poland at the end of the month to begin advocating for various health issues and patient empowerment.

Drescher is a frequent visitor to the nation’s capital, often seen on Capitol Hill lobbying for increased cancer funding and other women’s issues. Predecessors to her post include baseball great Cal Ripken Jr. and figure skater Michelle Kwan.

Briefly Quoted. “That’s a pretty lady over there. I don’t know what her name is. Hey good-lookin’! HEH-HEH-HEH-HEH! You don’t get too old to dream.”

— Sen. Robert Byrd, admiring the, ahem, scenery, as quoted in a profile of the West Virginia Democrat in the September issue of GQ magazine.

“Well, uh, belehduh belehdudeduh.”

— Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), asked by a videographer what he thinks of the Bush presidency. A clip of the interview, in which Coleman apparently lapses into gibberish, was posted on the Web site minnesotaindependent.com.

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