Heard on the Hill: Nevermind the …

Posted July 24, 2009 at 6:27pm

Sen. John McCain let loose with a raunchy (and British) expression on the Senate floor Thursday.

[IMGCAP(1)]The Republican from Arizona was complaining about Sen. Carl Levin’s plan to shuffle two amendments because one measure’s sponsor, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), had conflicting business.

McCain was clearly peeved, and he let the Michigan Democrat know it, grousing that the Senate had already gotten bogged down by debating hate crimes and guns. “So after getting bollixed up for a week and a half — or at least a week — on those two issues …— McCain began.

Ahem, did the gentleman from Arizona just use an obscene word, popular with the Brits, referring to an unmentionable portion of the male anatomy?

Why, yes, the word “bollix— is slang for testicles, and the phrase “bollix up— means to throw into disorder, according to various dictionaries HOH consulted.

McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan questioned whether her boss’ salty words were “newsworthy— when HOH called to discuss them, and she didn’t call us back with a comment.

If the Senator wants to avoid using naughty language on the prim-and-proper Senate floor, HOH suggests he use the Cockney rhyming slang version, “Jackson Pollocks.—

There, that’s British and family-friendly.

It All Adds Up. The old adage about the secretary who can’t type apparently doesn’t apply to Sen. John Ensign’s mistress, who served as the treasurer of the Nevada Republican’s Senate campaign.

Ensign’s dalliance with staffer Cynthia Hampton might have landed him in hot water with his constituents (and his wife, too) — but according to Federal Election Commission documents, Hampton kept Ensign’s campaign out of legal trouble.

While Hampton served as the treasurer of Ensign’s campaign, she apparently ran a tight ship, but her replacement just got a warning to clean up the campaign’s books.

The FEC this month sent a letter asking Hampton’s successor, Lisa Lisker, to correct contribution amounts for a handful of donors. The errors often happen when the contributor’s name is entered into the campaign’s database with slight variations, the FEC notes.

It’s not a huge offense, but we couldn’t help but notice that no similar letter was issued covering Hampton’s tenure.

Don’t Look Down. Annie Duke conquered the fiercely competitive, male-dominated world of professional poker, but she couldn’t overcome a fear of heights during a visit to Capitol Hill last week.

Duke spent several days lobbying Members of Congress on the separate issues of Internet poker regulation and the ongoing crisis in Sudan. But the “Celebrity Apprentice— star and her four children also enjoyed some downtime during the trip, snagging a tour of the Capitol Dome arranged by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

As anybody who has ever taken a Dome tour will attest, it gets pretty scary climbing those final steps — and Duke couldn’t muster up the nerve to go to the top.

“I’m so embarrassed,— Duke told HOH. “My kids went up, and they had a wonderful time.—

Her fear of heights aside, Duke had a productive week, lobbying for the Poker Players Alliance, appearing at a charity poker tournament for the USO and touring the East Wing of the White House.

HOH caught up with Duke in between lobby visits with Refugees International and the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress. Duke, whose annual “Ante Up for Africa— poker tournament has raised about $1 million for Darfur, asked Members to hold a December hearing on the ongoing crisis in the Sudan.

“Trust me, if that area collapses, we’ll be going in there,— Duke said. “If Sudan goes, it’s very likely we’ll see all of east Africa going as well.—

A’ for Effort. Sen. James Inhofe, who once called global warming a hoax, is getting some unlikely props from environmentalists.

Earth-loving Web site Grist.org gave the Oklahoma Republican an “A— rating last week for his views on global warming.

Well, sort of.

Grist studied the Web sites of 99 Senators (Minnesota Democratic Sen. Al Franken didn’t have one during the review) rating them on how clearly Members explained their positions on climate and energy issues. Both parties fared poorly, with 53 Senators scoring a C or worse and 25 not mentioning the issues at all.

But Inhofe, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, rose toward the top, even scoring above known greenies Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Environment and Public Works Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).

“This might be the only compliment Grist ever pays you: You’ve got a decent Web site,— Grist tells Inhofe on its site.

And Inhofe happily accepted the compliment.

“Grist is one of the most widely read liberal environmental online sites out there,— said Matt Dempsey, communications director for the committee’s Republicans. “So for them to go way out of their way to compliment Senator Inhofe saying he has [an] excellent Web site and criticize Democrats for their online efforts at the same time? Priceless.—

Overheard on the Hill. “The secretary is working hard to make reform a reality and was just making a quick trip to the store. Of course, she’s always happy to meet with Members to discuss health reform over the beverage of their choice.—

— Nick Papas, spokesman for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, explaining to HOH what his boss was doing last week at a Capitol Hill liquor store. (HOH surmised she was buying beer for health care negotiations on the Hill.)

“These studies are clearly not high priorities for U.S. citizens, suffering from disease here at home, who could benefit from the $5 million the NIH plans to spend on foreign alcoholics and prostitutes.—

— Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), in a press release on Friday, touting his amendment that “prohibits the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from funding three wasteful foreign grants that fund studies of substance abuse and HIV risk reduction counseling for Thai and Chinese prostitutes and Russian alcoholics.—

Jennifer Bendery and Matthew Murray contributed to this report.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.