Heard on the Hill: Intern-al Affairs

Posted June 3, 2009 at 6:37pm

Think of it as “TMZ,— only substitute intern hubris for celebrity hijinks. A new blog dedicated to catching Washington interns on their worst behavior is making the rounds among Hill staffers.

[IMGCAP(1)]DC Summer Interns started posting last week, and according to its founder plans to capture all the classics of bad intern behavior, from prominent displaying of a Congressional badge to name-dropping to inappropriate wardrobe choices.

The founder is a 24-year-old former House staffer who now works in the private sector (and who wants to keep her identity anonymous, just like posters to the blog). She tells HOH that the blog sprang from messages she and her friends would send among themselves after spotting a misbehaving intern. She decided a blog would let everyone share in the fun, and thus DC Summer Interns was born.

“Everyone who has lived in D.C. has a few great intern stories, and it’s kind of cathartic, and humorous, for everyone to air these stories in a general forum,— she tells HOH.

The site will run submitted photos and stories, with identifying information removed. So far, entries have called out interns for various offenses, including an intern from a New Jersey Democrat’s office who tried to cut in line at a local bakery (dropping his boss’s name in the process) and yelling at the woman at the counter because the bakery didn’t serve lox to go with his bagel.

And while HOH always wants the scoop on mischief among the Hill’s intern class, when it comes to dishing, we say the more the merrier.

Able to Take a Joke. Rep. Dennis Kucinich proved on Tuesday that he can let bygones be bygones.

The Ohio Democrat took to the House floor to honor comedian Jay Leno — noteworthy because Kucinich bore the brunt of many a Leno-delivered joke over the years. And despite all those comedic jabs, Kucinich waxed nostalgic over Leno’s just-concluded 17-year stint on “The Tonight Show,— noting, “Jay’s hilarious insights and observations whisked away our worries, if only for a brief time.—

Those insights often targeted Kucinich. During the heated fundraising battles of the 2008 presidential election, for example, Leno joked: “Hillary Clinton raised, like, $27 million, Barack Obama collected well over $20 million, and Dennis Kucinich saved a ton of dough on his car insurance by switching to GEICO.—

Leno also remarked that if Kucinich became president, his wife, Elizabeth, “would be the first first lady ever with a pierced tongue — and he would be the first president ever to sit in the Oval Office on a booster seat.— And when Kucinich dropped out of the race, Leno cracked: “Dennis’s campaign slogan was Don’t look back.’ He chose that slogan because there was never anybody behind him.—

But despite all the quips, Kucinich got to know Leno well over the years, spokesman Nathan White told HOH.

“He found him to be a very nice and intelligent person who worked very hard to entertain millions of Americans,— White said. “Basically, Congressman Kucinich just likes him.—

And Kucinich often was in on the late-night fun. In 2004 (before he married Elizabeth) he scored a date with actress Jennifer Tilly during a “Dating Game—-like skit on Leno’s show.

On the floor, Kucinich spoke of Leno’s “compassionate heart and strong sense of responsibility toward others,— pointing to his help in various charity efforts. “Jay Leno’s contributions continue to lift the heart and soul of our entire nation, one joke and one kind gesture at a time,— Kucinich said.

Acronyms Gone Wild. Kids, it’s time for the latest installment of that Congressional comedy show we call “Fun With Acronyms!—

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) relayed an amusing tale during a Tuesday hearing, the moral of which is welcome news to all fans of brevity: This year’s highway bill is mercifully not going to follow in the tradition that began when Rep. Don Young named the last big transportation bill after his wife, Lula Young.

The Alaska Republican added his wife’s nickname to the title of the legislative doozy, dubbed SAFETEA-LU, which stands for Safe, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users.

Romantic, no?

Boxer told her colleagues and the audience at the Tuesday hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee that she had been joking with her husband, Stewart, about what she would name the next bill. “I said, The bad news is, can you believe we named the highway bill after someone’s wife?’ And he said What’s the good news?’ and I said that I was going to name it SAFETEA-STEW after him.—

Ba-dum-bum.

Turns out the much catchier (though still carefully acronymed) name will be Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP 21.

Just don’t call it late for dinner.

A Great Honor for the Greatest.’ He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee, and now boxing heavyweight-turned-humanitarian Muhammad Ali could join the ranks of those honored with a Congressional Gold Medal.

Rep. André Carson introduced legislation Tuesday to award Ali the medal, which alongside the Presidential Medal of Freedom (which Ali already has received) is considered the highest tribute that can be bestowed on a civilian.

Speaking on the House floor on Wednesday, the Indiana Democrat called Ali “a great humanitarian,— noting his work in the civil rights movement and efforts to combat hunger and disease. “Under the shadow of 1960s discrimination, few could have imagined that an African-American and fellow Muslim would transcend race, religion and culture to promote peace around the world,— said Carson, the second Muslim to serve in Congress.

There is Congressional precedent for honoring Ali, and it comes from Carson’s family: His late grandmother, former Rep. Julia Carson (D-Ind.), introduced a resolution that unanimously passed the House honoring Ali on his 65th birthday.

André Carson’s effort to award Ali the medal had attracted 27 co-sponsors by Wednesday afternoon.

“Through his unyielding dedication to his sport and to struggling populations around the world, Muhammad Ali has served as an example of service and self-sacrifice for generations of Americans,— Carson wrote in a “Dear Colleague— letter. “The Congressional Gold Medal is surely a fitting commemoration of his life and work, for which he is deservingly known as the Greatest.’—

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