Heard on the Hill: Let’s Talk About … Pizza?

Posted June 5, 2009 at 6:19pm

Interns this summer might not get the benefit of Sen. Tom Coburn’s famous lecture on the perils of syphilis, gonorrhea and other “social diseases.—

[IMGCAP(1)]The famed lecture from the doctor-turned-Republican Senator from Oklahoma has been put on hold by a long-running dispute with the Senate Ethics Committee over whether the outside groups that helped sponsor the event could buy pizza for the kids attending the lecture. Because, apparently, they’re much more likely to show up for a slideshow depicting STDs if there’s the additional lure of free food.

“It’s a collision of pizza, STDs and the Ethics Committee,— says Coburn spokesman John Hart, in a sentence we’re pretty sure has never before been uttered.

The lecture was a mainstay of the intern experience throughout Coburn’s House term, but new ethics rules have hampered Coburn from delivering his stay-safe message to the young folks.

Now, Coburn is deciding whether to pony up the money himself this year to feed the 150 to 300 interns who typically showed up for the sex-ed talking-to. “It’s a difficult economic decision,— Hart says.

Raising the Bar. What’s next, a coat-and-tie policy? Beloved House-side watering hole Capitol Lounge is going upscale, with a new menu and a celebrity executive chef.

And the change has the dive bar’s patrons wondering whether a fancy menu will fly at a place best known for serving sustenance by the pint, not the plate (although cheap wings and taco nights were a draw).

Local chef Teddy Folkman (currently appearing on Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star—) takes over as executive chef at the recently renovated Pennsylvania Avenue bar today, and he plans to unveil a menu this week designed to class up the cuisine at the joint, according to a news release.

Folkman, the co-owner and executive chef of Granville Moore’s on H Street Northeast, will introduce his signature dishes of moules fromage bleu and frites to the Lounge, and he’ll add haute menu items such as fried Tabasco oysters, goat cheese poppers and crispy tuna rolls. An expanded drink list will feature 70 types of beers and 30 wines.

It’s a big change for the laid-back bar, perhaps most famous for its refusal to serve Miller Lite (and the multiple fires that have caused damage to the place over the years).

And one longtime Lounge patron noted that the bar’s regular clientele (which includes plenty of unpaid Congressional interns) might not prove to be the target demographic for mussels and oysters.

“Put it this way, when a kickball team shows up after a game or a group of Red Sox fans is watching a game, no one will be saying, Let’s get some goat cheese poppers,’— the patron joked.

Slings and Arrows. HOH was worried when a tipster reported seeing Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy with his arm in a sling on Thursday. The Vermont Democrat, after all, is one of the key defenders of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and we wondered if all the bipartisan bickering had gotten a little rough — that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is a pretty wily fighter.

But Leahy spokesman David Carle assured us there was no foul play. The Senator had been complaining of a sore shoulder that day, he said.

Spy … or Party-Crasher? Karl Rove is usually considered the ultimate insider. But an ace HOH spy spotted the one-time adviser to former President George W. Bush looking very much like an outsider on Thursday night.

Rove was hanging around near the entrance to the Newseum, where an uber-Democratic party was going on upstairs. There, Dem glitterati were feting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s former executive director, Brian Wolff. The guest list included Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and Reps. Scott Murphy (N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (Md.), Charlie Rangel (N.Y.), Anna Eshoo (Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (Calif.), Bruce Braley (Iowa), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), John Hall (N.Y.) and John Adler (N.J.).

Our spy wondered if Rove was thinking about crashing the party — top-notch (and blue) guest list aside, the bash also featured tasty sushi and Asian food that might have been worth his effort.

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