Heard on the Hill: Oh No She Didn’t

Posted May 15, 2009 at 5:59pm

Looks like somebody can’t take a joke. A Thursday meeting of the House Homeland Security Committee turned into a Golden State spat when Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) took umbrage at a tongue-in-cheek remark by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.).

[IMGCAP(1)]Lungren effusively praised air marshals, and joked that it’s difficult to retain them, because “a lot of what they do, with all due respect, is sitting around. … I mean, that’s the nature of their work.—

Richardson snapped at Lungren, taking him to task for the remark and twice denying his request to yield time to him.

“It was like somebody just punched a tiger in the face,— one gleeful onlooker said of Richardson provoking Lungren.

“Now, how anybody could misinterpret that is beyond me,— a clearly ticked-off Lungren said when he finally got the chance to talk. “I would hope the record reflect irony, a statement of humor, a recognition of the job they do.—

And he went on to extol his record supporting law enforcement (as a former California attorney general, Lungren likes to think of himself as a cop’s cop) and bemoaned Richardson’s inability to take a joke. “It is too bad in this House that we can’t even have a little sense of humor,— he said. “Maybe we’d better have a sign, Abandon all hope and humor all ye who enter here.’—

HOH has to appreciate a guy who can rock a Dante reference.

Contacted by HOH, Richardson said in a statement that she didn’t think Lungren really meant to dis air marshals. “While I do not think that it was his intension to belittle the work that the federal air marshals do, I just wanted to clarify that we should not make comments like that about the men and woman who serve and protect us on a regular basis,— she said.

“She clearly took it the wrong way,— Lungren spokesman Brian Kaveney tells HOH.

Quipping Time. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) struck comedic gold with a witty quip about climate-change legislation Thursday that landed in plenty of newspapers. “It’s a legislative Susan Boyle,— Markey said of the bill, evoking the plain-looking Scottish singer who was the surprise star of a British “American Idol—-like show. “Everyone underestimated it until it started to sing.—

The zinger was the perfect sound bite: apropos, with a soupçon of pop culture. Markey was clearly pleased with the joke and was even overheard repeating it Friday.

But one GOP aide took issue with the analogy and suggested his own “Idol—-themed metaphor. “This bill is more like the William Hung of legislation — starts out bad, gets a deal and never improves,— the aide said, referring to the “American Idol— contestant whose off-key warblings made him a cult favorite on the show and earned him a recording contract.

The Reviews Are In. Who cares what the critics have to say about “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian— — Congressional reviewers gave the film their yea vote.

The new family flick, which sees the artifacts come to life at many of the Smithsonian Institution’s museums, premiered Thursday evening at the Air and Space Museum. And Members joined the film’s cast at the star-studded screening, sitting alongside celebs such as Ben Stiller, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson and Robin Williams in the museum’s IMAX theater.

“It’s going to be great for families who take their kids,— said Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), who serves on the Smithsonian Board of Regents. “There are very few movies that you can go to that are entirely safe.—

Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) also liked the film, particularly Stiller’s performance, spokeswoman Angela Barranco said. “He thought it was really great and thought kids would really enjoy it,— she said.

Matsui told HOH she sat next to Hank Azaria at the premiere. Bad guy Azaria’s comedic back-and-forth dialogue with the film’s good guy, played by Stiller, was perhaps the California Democrat’s favorite part of the film, she said.

Adams was “absolutely beautiful and really refreshing,— Matsui said, adding that meeting Williams was especially exciting.

“I remember seeing him on TV with Mork & Mindy,’— she recalled. “He’s such a talented actor, and he was really almost like a little kid [Thursday] night.—

Matsui wasn’t the only Member excited to meet Williams: Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), also a Smithsonian regent, managed to snap a photo with the actor.

Chief Justice John Roberts also attended the screening, along with Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-Fla.) and wife, and Reps. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) and Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.).

Big Shots. Here’s a tip: Avoid ticking off Rep. Collin Peterson — the Minnesota Democrat is the best shooter in Congress.

Peterson captured the “Top Gun— prize at the 2009 Congressional Shoot Out, held last week at the Prince George’s County Trap and Skeet Center in Glenn Dale, Md. The contest pits Democratic and Republican members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus against one another to see who is better at sporting clays, skeet and trap shooting.

Caucus Co-Chairman Dan Boren (Okla.) led a victorious Democratic squad, joined by Peterson and Reps. Mike Ross (Ark.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Russ Carnahan (Mo.), Christopher Carney (Pa.), Lincoln Davis (Tenn.) and Jim Marshall (Ga.). Carney was named top Congressional trapshooter.

Boren, who also captured the prize as top Congressional skeet-shooter, told HOH that the contest shows Congress is filled with some “pretty good sharpshooters.—

“This is a setting where there’s no partisanship,— he said of the competition. “You just relax and be among friends.—

Caucus Co-Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) led the GOP team, which included Reps. Adam Putnam (Fla.), Bob Latta (Ohio), Paul Broun (Ga.), John Kline (Minn.), Rob Wittman (Va.) and Don Young (Alaska). And although his team lost, Ryan did capture the top Congressional sporting clays shooter prize.

Bird Watching. An HOH tipster spotted silver-screen diva Tippi Hedren in the basement of the Hart Senate Office Building on Friday. Hedren is most famous for starring in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds— — and for being the mother of actress Melanie Griffith.

Hedren was touring the building in a fashion befitting her legendary status: She was wearing a large hat, our spy says, and was accompanied by an entourage of four men.

Hedren, a longtime activist for lions, leopards and other big cats, was in town to promote animal-welfare legislation, her publicist tells HOH.

And Baby Makes 30. Rep. Howard McKeon might need to invest in nametags for his next family celebration. The California Republican and his wife, Patricia, celebrated the birth of their 30th grandchild last week. Everhett Joseph Logan was born May 14 to the McKeons’ daughter, Tricia Logan (one of six kids), and her husband, David. The couple lives in Utah.

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