Heard on the Hill: Family Affair

Posted June 2, 2009 at 6:27pm

Here’s a silver lining for politicians who lose a Congressional race: It might just land you a reality TV show.

[IMGCAP(1)]The Duggars, the Arkansas-based family who star in TLC’s reality show “18 Kids and Counting,— came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, meeting with their hometown Representative, John Boozman (R), and taking a tour of the Capitol.

And the patriotic setting led Jim Bob Duggar, the patriarch of the huge brood, to recall to HOH how his failed bid for a U.S. Senate seat ended up propelling the family to fame.

Duggar, facing then-Sen. Tim Hutchinson in the 2002 Republican primary race, took wife Michelle and their then-13 children to the voting booth as a learning exercise. A photographer snapped a shot of the clan — “like little ducklings,— Michelle Duggar recalled — and that led the Discovery Channel to air a one-hour televised special on the family. That eventually led to their current show.

And the cameras were in tow when the wholesome, very religious brood (no Jon-and-Kate-type marital drama here, thank you) stopped by Boozman’s office late Tuesday afternoon. They chatted with the Arkansas Republican (whom they have campaigned for) before heading to the Capitol for a tour.

Boozman told HOH that the Duggars live in the small town adjacent to his and that he has known the family for at least 15 years.

“Everybody knows everyone, so they’ve been friends for a long time,— Boozman said. “They’re excited. They’ve got a full schedule.—

The family last visited Washington, D.C., about 10 years ago and decided to return because “a lot of the young ones haven’t been here,— Jim Bob Duggar said. They’ll be in town through Friday, stopping by the monuments and even volunteering at a local soup kitchen.

One regret: The family tried to get a tour of the White House and a chance to meet President Barack Obama and the first lady, but they didn’t manage to schedule it in time. “Maybe we’ll run into them on the Capitol lawn,— Jim Bob Duggar joked.

Close Shave. If there’s one sure thing about Capitol Hill post-recess, it’s that a Member of Congress will have changed up his or her look during the break.

And this time around, it’s Sen. Pat Roberts who underwent a mini-makeover.

The Kansas Republican had been sporting a gray beard and mustache for several weeks, which he had grown while recuperating from his April 14 knee surgery. After he recovered, Roberts decided to keep the look, which one observer noted made the Senator look “kind of … like a mountain man.—

But when Roberts was spotted on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, he was clean-shaven.

The Senator told a Roll Call reporter that his beard “got too close to a damn fan, so I clipped the rest of it off.— But HOH might have discovered the real reason behind the shave — Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little told HOH that “his wife, Franki, vetoed the matter.—

Fightin’ Words. Most Members of Congress — heck, even most Congressional staffers — wouldn’t think twice about sending an intern on a grueling/demeaning/tedious errand. But if he were her underling, HOH might be afraid to tick off David Schacter, the newest intern in the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Reid proudly introduced Schacter to the gaggle of reporters gathered after the weekly party lunches on Tuesday. “He’s the four-time NCAA lightweight boxing champ,— Reid boasted of his latest hire, who earned his titles at the University of Nevada. “No one’s ever done that before.—

Reid, of course, is partial to pugilism, having been an amateur fighter himself.

Sounds like Reid’s staffers will still be fetching coffee for themselves this summer …

As the Real World’ Turns. Keep holding your breath, people — there’s still no official word that MTV’s “The Real World— is coming to Washington. Local blogs, including We Love DC and DCist, have been abuzz with reports of the pioneering reality TV show’s imminent arrival inside the Beltway, but a spokesman for the D.C. Office of Motion Picture & Television Development says only that our fair city is still under “serious consideration— for hosting duties.

Apparently, though, so are a few other ’burgs. “In this business, nothing’s final until it’s final,— says the film office’s Josh Friedman.

Murtha’s Knee-d for Speed. Rep. John Murtha might have had knee replacement surgery in April, but the 76-year-old Pennsylvania Democrat isn’t missing a step.

Murtha last week made good on a promise to visit every booth in the exhibit hall (actually, a converted hockey rink) at the annual business showcase in his hometown of Johnstown, Pa.

On Thursday, Murtha walked the hall without a cane and shook hands at each stop. Friday morning he spoke at a conference breakfast — but sat down afterward and received visitors from a chair. The former Marine looked plenty spry, but after the breakfast, when asked how his knee was doing, he told reporters, “It’s hurtin’, it’s hurtin’ right now. … [Doctors] said, This’ll last 20 years, this knee.’ And I said, It’ll last long enough.’—

Murtha says he has no plans to let his knee surgery (or anything else) slow him down. “They’ll have to carry me out,— he said.

Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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