Heard on the Hill: Kucinich’s Last Tango in Cleveland

Posted March 17, 2009 at 6:47pm

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) might have put the kibosh on his wife, Cindy, appearing as a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars,— but it seems the wife of another former presidential candidate has a more supportive spouse.

[IMGCAP(1)]Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D), is appearing as a contestant on “Cleveland’s Dancing with the Stars,— a morning-show version of the popular national reality competition that airs on Cleveland’s News Channel 5.

The willowy, Brit-born redhead, who may be the only Congressional spouse to sport a tongue ring, had her debut dance Tuesday, partnered with Cleveland dancer Rob O’Bryant.

Kucinich sported a classier ensemble than viewers of DWTS have come to expect from contestants, wearing a dark, knee-length halter gown and black kitten heels.

The soundtrack wasn’t too spectacular — we’d describe it as snappy elevator music — but Kucinich appeared to have her steps down.

Similar to the original show, viewers will vote (online) to determine who stays and who is sent home. Kucinich is facing competition from former Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Al “Bubba— Baker; the mayor of Seven Hills, Ohio; the mascot of the Cleveland Indians (in full costume); and a slew of local reporters and radio personalities.

The first voting results are set to be unveiled today. And here’s where having a hubby who knows a thing or two about campaigns might come in handy: Dennis Kucinich lobbied for support Tuesday, posting a link on Twitter asking people to vote for his wife.

Dish and Telling on the First Lady. We don’t know what first lady Michelle Obama and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) ate during their Tuesday lunch date at local restaurant B. Smith’s. But we do know what was for dessert: a press release.

Emily Post might have done a pirouette in her grave when Norton followed up her meeting with the first lady by announcing the tete-a-tete to the world — or at least portions of it on her press list.

And as if the announcement itself wasn’t bad enough, the all-points bulletin also went out of the way to make clear that it was Obama who had initiated the meeting and that the women dished some juicy topics over their lunch. “Norton said the lunch conversation was all over the map like any girlfriends who put no limits on their conversation,’— the release crowed.

Swearing Like a Farm Hand. Some listeners might have gasped when they heard Sen. Nice Guy, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), graphically complain during a press conference Tuesday that bailout recipient American International Group was “sucking on the tit of the taxpayer.— After all, Grassley’s aw-shucks farm boy persona and his Jimmy Stewart-esque cadence (not to mention his sweater vests) make him one of the least likely people from whose mouth one might expect such crudeness.

But Grassley has actually used that expression, or some variation thereof, before. Back in January, HOH quoted the Iowa Republican as complaining that rural states are “always sucking the hind tit,— when it comes to children’s health insurance legislation.

We’re chalking this up to Grassley’s rural roots — a milieu in which those expressions have actual, nonmetaphoric meanings.

Say a Little Prayer. Astute HOH readers likely remember the “Pray at the Pump— movement, which saw activists pray at gas stations across the country in an effort to lower fuel prices.

With that crisis averted (for now, anyway), the “prayer warriors— are turning their attention to the financial crisis, with their eyes set on an unlikely target: Jay Leno.

President Barack Obama is set to appear on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno— on Thursday, in part to chat about the nation’s ongoing economic troubles.

But for the warriors, the president’s appearance is personal.

“Our beef with Jay Leno is that he mocked our movement,— group founder Rocky Twyman told HOH. “And you know, [prayer] worked. It really worked. He can say what he wants, but we put prayer together with activism.—

Twyman and his colleagues plan to protest in front of the White House on Thursday. There, they will collect signatures for a petition asking Leno and other celebrities to donate gobs of their money to help destitute fans and to improve the economy.

Supporters in the Golden State also plan to protest outside the “Tonight Show— studio, Twyman said, and they’ve even created a new prayer group to promote the effort, called the Citizens to Encourage the NFL, NBA and Hollywood Stars to Help Obama Save the U.S. Economy, (or CENNHOSE, for not-so-short).

“You know, they have these large fortunes,— Twyman said of the famous folks. “We think that instead of all this extravagance that they display, they ought to use that money to help.—

The CENNHOSE wants celebrities to donate their Oscar gowns to the cause, Twyman noted — and maybe even Leno could donate one of his pricey antique cars to the cause.

“We just think these guys, they have got to help Obama, man,— Twyman said. “It’s just kind of like, we’ve all got to chip in.—

Bracket-ology Is Catching. Sen. John McCain is such a trendsetter. First, the Arizona Republican got all the kids to start addressing each other as “my friends— (we kid), and now, his tradition of pitting his March Madness basketball brackets against his supporters is catching on.

Plenty of other Hill offices are getting into the, er, game, releasing their own brackets. The campaign of Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) this year is inviting supporters to submit their tournament picks. (Latham, by the way, played it safe with Michigan State University, Duke University, the University of Connecticut and the University of North Carolina in his Final Four, with UConn winning it all. Yawn.) The prize for the top scorer is a nifty pocket-sized camcorder.

And the National Republican Congressional Committee is urging people to fill out brackets, competing against NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) and other Members of Congress.

The winner scores two complimentary tickets to the joint GOP Senate-House fundraising dinner.

And if you’re looking for some bipartisan comparison, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says President Barack Obama will, in the name of transparency, release his picks.

HOH is just glad to hear Members talking about basketball brackets, not tax ones.

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