Heard on the Hill: Signature Style

Posted August 4, 2009 at 6:17pm

Correction Appended

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has found a silver (or rather, pink) lining to wearing a cast while she recovers from a fractured leg.

[IMGCAP(1)]The Florida Democrat is asking fellow Members of Congress and other political VIPs to sign the cast (which is hot pink!) in order to raise money for a breast cancer charity.

Spokesman Michael Liquerman tells HOH that 40 to 50 prominent people already have lent their John Hancock to the cast, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and the entire roster of the Congressional women’s softball team (Wasserman Schultz broke her leg while sliding into a base during the team’s July 14 charity game).

Once her cast is removed, Wasserman Schultz plans to donate it to the Young Survival Coalition, which can auction it off or use it as a raffle prize, Liquerman said. The Congresswoman — who has been zipping around Capitol Hill on a scooter while she recovers from the fracture — is herself a survivor of breast cancer, and the $40,000 raised from the softball game went to the coalition.

Wasserman Schultz staffer Kate Houghton, who helped plan the softball game, came up with the idea to use the cast for charity, Liquerman said.

Come on Down. Members of Congress often maintain friendships with politically active celebrities. Think actor Ben Affleck and Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.). There’s also actress Bo Derek and Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.).

Or Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and retired “Price Is Right— host Bob Barker.

It turns out that Young and his wife, Beverly, are longtime friends of Barker — and when they needed help last week in their fight to protect a group of allegedly abused bears, the renowned animal lover provided support.

The Youngs met Barker years ago, when the star took ill during a visit to Washington, Beverly Young told HOH via e-mail. When the couple heard about Barker’s illness, they offered their assistance.

“Bob is a vegetarian, so Bill arranged for a local restaurant to make some vegetarian meals for Bob and I delivered them,— she wrote. “Hence, a longtime friendship and a lot of laughs.—

Barker returned the favor last week, traveling to Asheville, N.C., to draw attention to what the Youngs view as animal cruelty at three zoos. (The zoos deny the claims.)

When the Youngs took their grandchildren to one of the zoos recently, they found that most of the bears were extremely skinny and kept in pit-like concrete enclosures. After one of her granddaughters broke down while watching zookeepers mistreat one of the bear cubs, a tearful Beverly Young called Barker for help, she said.

Barker traveled to North Carolina as a representative of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and held a news conference urging the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which oversees the zoos, to stop exhibiting the bears and send them to a California animal sanctuary.

Beverly Young joined him, but the Congressman remained in D.C. for votes. He did take to the House floor to offer thanks, however. “Bob Barker is a great American. … I want to commend Bob Barker for once again crisscrossing our nation in his continuing commitment to protect innocent animals,— Young said.

Survival of the Fittest. Disco diva Gloria Gaynor was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, and the presence of the singer, best known for the dance-floor anthem “I Will Survive,— sent a few Senators into pun mode faster than you could say “leisure suit.—

[IMGCAP(2)]“You certainly have survived well,— Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told Gaynor, who indeed looked glamorous in a flowing black outfit. “There are many disco fans among Senators, and we’re glad you’re here,— he gushed.

Gaynor sat in the audience of a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which was discussing legislation that would pay performers when their music plays on the radio.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) apparently couldn’t help but indulge in a little wordplay, too, twice using the word “survive— in his introductory remarks, accompanied by an oh-so-slight eyebrow wiggle to let the audience know the choice was intentional.

Gaynor, who was scheduled to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her most famous song with a reception last night in the Capitol Visitor Center sponsored by the musicFIRST Coalition, told HOH after the hearing that she’s used to people constantly riffing on “survivor— themes when she’s around.

“But I love it,— she said. “People tell me how the song has encouraged them and helped them.—

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Correction: Aug. 5, 2009

Due to inaccurate information provided to Roll Call, the story wrongly identified who thought of outfitting Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) with a pink cast. The Congresswoman asked for the cast.