Heard on the Hill: Snubbing the Speaker

Posted July 21, 2009 at 6:33pm

Speaker Nancy Pelosi got dissed by astronaut Neil Armstrong after a ceremony at which the California Democrat honored the moonwalking hero and his historic Apollo 11 flight.

[IMGCAP(1)]After the event marking the 40th anniversary of Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind,— held in the Cannon House Office Building on Tuesday, an admiring Pelosi approached Armstrong with pen in hand, a witness to the snub tells HOH.

Pelosi asked the publicity-shy former astronaut to autograph something for her, but he wouldn’t oblige. “I’m sorry, I don’t do that anymore,— Armstrong informed the autograph-seeker.

Turns out, Pelosi shouldn’t take his put-down personally. Armstrong reportedly refuses all autograph requests, no matter how powerful the person asking. He stopped giving out his John Hancock years ago, news reports say, fearing forgeries and concerned about those making large amounts of money from autographed items.

In fact, Pelosi took getting turned down in stride, spokesman Brendan Daly says. “The Speaker would go to the moon and back to try to get what her grandson asked for,— he tells HOH. “But he learned a valuable lesson: You can’t always get what you want.—

Lost and Found. Rep. Jason Chaffetz is among the least likely Members of Congress to lose his way in the halls of the Longworth House Office Building. The Utah Republican not only works there, he pretty much lives there, sleeping on a cot in his office during Congressional work periods.

But everyone gets lost once in a while.

On Tuesday, Chaffetz walked into a House Natural Resources subcommittee hearing in Longworth and began reading a statement on a water bill. Sounds typical enough — except that the panel wasn’t taking up legislation on the issue at all.

Chaffetz had gone to the wrong hearing.

“I was one sentence into it before [ranking member] Doc Hastings [R-Wash.] said, That one’s down the hall,’— Chaffetz recalled to HOH.

It’s easy to see how Chaffetz made the mistake — both subcommittee hearings were taking place at the same time, on the same floor. Chaffetz took his mistake in stride, even posting this tweet: “Funny that I initially went to the wrong Nat Res committee mtg and started my statement. Just wanted everyone to know :).—

Retread Threads. Rep. Michele Bachmann is no stranger to attracting attention when she speaks on the House floor. But on Tuesday, the outspoken Minnesota Republican raised eyebrows not for what she said, but what she wore.

Bachmann appeared in the chamber sporting a sleeveless top with bold trim along the neckline, which, in the buttoned-up world of Congress, would be noteworthy enough. But here’s the eyebrow-raising part: The top appeared to be the exact same one she wore on the House floor late the night before.

A Bachmann spokeswoman did not return HOH’s calls seeking an explanation for the wardrobe repeat. (A late night and no change of clothes, perhaps? Lost luggage?)

Bachmann might not be a huge environmentalist, but she certainly believes in recycling, at least when it comes to her outfits.

America Isn’t a Democracy, It’s a Chucktatorship. As the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword — but only if the pen is held by Chuck Norris.

On Tuesday, the martial-arts-legend-turned-cultural icon used that pen (well, keyboard) in an opinion piece published on Townhall.com, rallying against a lawsuit that seeks to block “In God We Trust— from being engraved at the Capitol Visitor Center.

Filed last week by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the suit would strike down as unconstitutional legislation recently passed by Congress to add the motto and Pledge of Allegiance to the CVC’s walls.

And Norris isn’t pleased. Calling himself a “fighter for the freedoms of speech and religion,— Norris writes that atheists “might not be found in every foxhole, but the bunker called the Capitol Visitor Center has a couple of them in there right now.—

“I think it’s time that Americans let them know … the motto and pledge are at the heart of our country,— he continues.

But foundation President Annie Laurie Gaylor isn’t backing down, telling HOH that Norris’ column shows there “is a religious-right assault on our secular government.—

“What is most disturbing about the Norris column is his ignorant assertion that America is a Christian nation,— she says. “The sponsors of this legislation intended to inscribe a Christian god at the Capitol Visitor Center and to exclude not only atheists and agnostics, but Jews and all other non-Christian Americans.—

Only time will tell which side will prevail. In the meantime, Norris won’t sleep — he’ll wait.

Overheard on the Hill. “Trouble, oh, we’ve got trouble, right here in capital city, with a capital T,’ and rhymes with B,’ and that stands for broken!’—

— Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) riffing on lyrics from “The Music Man— during a floor speech on Tuesday about health care reform.

“Last week, Democrats released a health care bill which essentially said to America’s seniors: Drop dead.—

— Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Fla.), attempting to scare old people on the House floor on Tuesday.

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