Heard on the Hill: When the Conference is A-Rockin’…

Posted April 22, 2009 at 6:52pm

Correction Appended

House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence likes his meetings with a good beat that you can dance to. An HOH spy says the Indiana Republican often livens things up in the weekly GOP Conference meeting by blaring classic rock tunes, with Wednesday’s session punctuated by the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.—

[IMGCAP(1)]Previous conference hits have included The Who’s “Baba O’Reilly,— “Hail! Hail! Rock ’n’ Roll— by Little Richard, and Rick Derringer’s “Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo,— we hear.

Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd tells HOH his boss, a former talk-radio host, uses musical interludes much like the “bumper music— often used on commercial radio between program segments. The song selections (which we hear come from Pence’s own iPod) are sometimes linked to meeting themes, he says.

“This week’s is particularly fitting given the fact that we’re all seeking shelter from the Dem’s cap-and-tax proposal,— Lloyd tells us.

Republicans getting pumped up to oppose tax policy? That’s not exactly music to the Democrats’ ears.

What’s Brown and Wet All Over? He’s a longtime veteran of Washington, so no one could call Sen. Sherrod Brown wet behind the ears. But wet the Ohio Democrat was on Wednesday when he appeared at a Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing looking more like a drowned rat than a Senator.

“Let’s not call it soaking, let’s call it Lake Erie chic,’— says his spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak.

She explained that while walking to the hearing, Brown was caught in a downpour. “He’s been talking about trade all day and, unfortunately, the only umbrella he could find was made in China, and he didn’t want to take the risk,— she says of her boss, a prominent free-trade critic.

Bruce v. Britney. Rep. Joe Crowley’s much more of a Boss guy than a Brit-Brit fan. The New York Democrat is holding a fundraiser at the Bruce Springsteen concert at the Verizon Center next month, which strikes HOH as a far more manly venue than, say, a Britney Spears performance.

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) took plenty of hits (as in “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time—) for holding an event for donors at Britney’s Verizon Center concert last month. Crowley is going much more demographic-appropriate (last we checked, Britney’s teen fans aren’t shelling out big money to PACs) with his plan to raise bucks at the Bruce show.

Crowley, a singer and guitar player in his own right, is a self-professed Boss-o-phile who has covered his share of Springsteen tunes.

And although Crowley has said he wants to be the Boss, it looks like he was “Born to Run— … for office, that is.

Biden: Between the Rock and a Hard Place. Vice President Joseph Biden knows his place — and on Tuesday night, it was a tough slot to be in. The veep was speaking at an intimate dinner that the Motion Picture Association of America hosted at the Building Museum in honor of filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Biden noted that he was following the actor known as The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson), who appeared at an MPAA event earlier in the day, and was speaking before Scorsese. “Between The Scorpion King’ and Raging Bull,’— was how Biden described his spot in the lineup, referencing movies made by Johnson and Scorsese, respectively.

An HOH spy says the event was star-studded, with Members in attendance including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and David Vitter (R-La.).

Facebook Fail. Like telephones or copy machines, it’s now hard to imagine what work must have been like back in the dark ages, back when Facebook didn’t exist.

But that’s just what happened to some staffers working out of the Capitol on Wednesday, when access to the popular time-wasting, er, networking site was blocked. Would-be Facebook-ers were greeted with an error-ridden message reading: “FaceBook The catagory listed to you, is filtered due to unsafe content. If you believe the content is required for business use please contact the Call Center at EXt. 5-6002 and they will assist you.—

The reason for the Web block remains a mystery, however. According to those who oversee the House networks at the office of Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard, network users should have no problem accessing Facebook.

“Access to Facebook has not been blocked in the House network,— spokeswoman Karissa Marcum said. “There are several scenarios that could cause denied access to a site, including a problem with [an] individual computer.—

In Other Social Networking News … While some staffers struggle without their Facebook fix, another social networking site is stepping up its game.

DistrictFile, the invite-only online network designed to connect seasoned political professionals, is doing just that, albeit the old-fashioned way, sponsoring monthly happy hours around town to connect members, many of whom are Congressional staffers.

Founder Amir Oveissi told HOH the first event was held at Lounge 201 on Thursday, with a second planned at Georgetown’s L2 next month.

DistrictFile launched last year with a goal of being more professional-minded than Facebook (read: no “five favorite whatever— lists), but less stuffy than career-focused LinkedIn. “It’s been going better than I expected, and we are still trying to emphasize a slower growth, going for a quality base rather than quantity,— said Oveissi, a former staffer for the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

Aside from happy hours, DistrictFile also will honor 25 of its own members with the inaugural Axis Award for Political Leadership next month. Chosen by DistrictFile members, the winners will be “people who recognize that networking is more than showing up to work and going home,— Oveissi said.

Jump the Shark. They might be the most terrifying creatures in the sea, but sharks have a loyal (and rather good-looking) friend in actress January Jones.

Ocean conservation group Oceana on Wednesday named the “Mad Men— actress the spokeswoman for their shark conservation campaign. Jones will star in a series of typical celebrity-for-a-cause public service announcements — only hers will include footage of a time when she swam with actual live sharks.

“I wanted the visual image of myself in the water with sharks to show the world that they aren’t the man eaters’ they are sometimes made out to be,— Jones says in the group’s press release. Jones also is expected to lobby for shark-saving legislation introduced on Wednesday by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

Jones isn’t due in town anytime soon — she’s busy filming the latest season of “Mad Men— — but if she really likes to swim with sharks, there’s plenty of that to be done here.

John McArdle and Tricia Miller contributed to this report.

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Correction: April 23, 2009

The column misidentified the title of a song by the band The Who. The correct title is “Baba O’Reilly.”

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