Heard on the Hill: Something Squirrely This Way Comes

Posted June 17, 2009 at 5:56pm

What with the pre-recess crush of legislation, things are kind of nutty over in the House. And word of said nuttiness seems to have spread to the local squirrel population.

A staffer in the office of Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) had a close encounter with one of the brown, furry beasts on Wednesday morning, and the run-in appears to have left both parties a little shaken.

[IMGCAP(1)]Legislative assistant Erin Katzelnick-Wise tells HOH that she was sitting at her desk, prepping for a hearing, when she heard papers rustling at a nearby vacant desk. The noise grew louder, and she realized she wasn’t alone when she heard the sound of a trash can being knocked over and saw a large squirrel (“It was like he was on steroids!—) jump on the ledge inside the office just below the window.

The squirrel seemed to be stunned by the experience of coming face to face with a human — the creature urinated on the stack of papers on which it landed. Katzelnick-Wise screamed, and the squirrel eventually hopped out of the open window.

But the animal must have enjoyed its time in Eshoo’s office, since it hung out on the exterior windowsill. “He was kind of staring in,— Katzelnick-Wise says.

But not to worry, the Eshoo staff is taking no chances that the four-legged intruder will reprise his visit: From now on, the windows will remain shut, Katzelnick-Wise says.

These Boots Were Made for Voting. Sen. James Inhofe knows what he likes in a shoe — and what he doesn’t like is loafers, thank you very much.

In Wednesday’s column, HOH poked a bit of fun at the Oklahoma Republican after he showed up to a Tuesday morning vote in an outfit we described as a dressed-down royal blue polo shirt, pair of khaki pants and casual loafers. (Inhofe had just returned from a Congressional delegation trip and didn’t have time to change before the vote.)

And while Inhofe didn’t mind us joking about his admittedly casual attire, he did want to make one thing clear: “I have never worn loafers.—

Rather, the proud Oklahoman wears a trusty pair of cowboy boots to work nearly every day, he told us — something he’s done for years, despite the disapproval of some political fashionistas.

After Inhofe switched to the Senate from the House after the 1994 elections, some political types asked Inhofe whether he thought it was time to hang up his boots for a different kind of shoe, since he was joining the uber-exclusive chamber, he recalled.

“And I said, I’ve always worn them. Of course I’m going to wear them,’— he said.

Within a year, several of his Senate colleagues were wearing cowboy boots, Inhofe said. “I was the trendsetter.—

A Fashion Faux Pas? While there’s little dispute over Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-Okla.) footwear choice (see above item), HOH leaves it up to you, dear readers, whether a pair of shoes that Rep. Lynn Jenkins recently wore are Capitol Hill-appropriate.

The Kansas Republican was spotted on Tuesday wearing what appeared to be fancy flip-flops, a shoe choice we’d expect from a tourist, an intern or maybe even a fresh-out-of-college staffer, but not a Member of Congress.

From the picture taken by a Roll Call photographer, it appears that Jenkins’ shoes consisted of a twisted thong-strap and little else — she wasn’t wearing pantyhose — which is the perfect shoe companion for a sundress worn on the beach, but perhaps not with a conservative suit in the halls of Congress.

Jenkins spokeswoman Mary Geiger, however, insisted to HOH that the shoes were not flip-flops. Rather, she said, they were, “Dressy sandals with a heel.—

Flip-flops or sandals? You decide.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jason Chaffetz totally owned up to his own fashion faux pas — and in true form, he even posted a tweet about it.

The Utah Republican was at a grocery store near the Capitol when votes were suddenly called late Tuesday night, something Chaffetz did not anticipate. So, he literally ran the mile or so back to the Capitol to cast his vote — decked out in a casual outfit that was highlighted by a pair of shorts, a definite no-no in Capitol Hill attire.

“Despite the shorts, I made the vote and I am sweating in the cloak room,— Chaffetz Twittered.

Seen and Heard. That was actress Julianne Moore on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, joining activist Mark Shriver to lobby Members to take immediate action to ensure children at child care facilities are protected during a disaster.

HOH hears Moore, serving as a celebrity ambassador for Shriver’s group Save the Children, met with Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) during her trip to the Hill, where she asked Members to push for national disaster-preparedness standards for child care centers and schools, among other federal action.

Moore’s visit wasn’t the first time the actress lobbied on Capitol Hill — in 2005, she testified about the need to provide federal funding to research tuberous sclerosis complex, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form in various organs.

“We lobbied a lot of people involved in defense, because that was where the money was,— Moore recalled, laughing.

Overheard on the Hill. “I wonder if there isn’t more freedom on the streets of Tehran right now than we are seeing here.—

— Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.) during a late Tuesday night meeting of the House Rules Committee, bemoaning Democrats’ closing off the process for considering a spending bill.

Niels Lesniewski of GalleryWatch contributed to this report.

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