Heard on the Hill: Off to the Races

Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:47pm

Among the Members of Congress pounding the pavement for Sunday’s Marine Corps Marathon were a pro and a couple of first-timers.

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) finished in an impressive four hours and six minutes.

[IMGCAP(1)]And making the run an even bigger feat, it marked the Congresswoman’s 80th — yes, that’s as in eight-oh — marathon, Chief of Staff Barry Bennett tells HOH. Just last week, she ran her 79th in Columbus, Ohio.

And on the other end of the spectrum, it was a first for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), who clocked in at a not-too-shabby six hours, 45 minutes. Coffman, a retired Marine, had been training for months, spokesman Nat Sillin tells HOH. And although he was recuperating with ice packs on Monday, Coffman plans to give it another go next year. “He says he’s going to train harder,— Sillin says.

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and his wife, Karen, also finished the race — a first for them, too — both with times of six hours and 37 minutes. Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd says Karen Pence used the race to help raise money for the art therapy program at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis by asking her supporters to donate. “Congressman Pence was excited to achieve a personal goal he set with his wife but was also glad to know there was a pickup bus and plenty of ambulances on scene throughout the race,— Lloyd said in an e-mail to HOH.

They weren’t the only Members of Congress on the scene.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) fired the starting pistol (don’t worry, they use blanks in those things) that officially began the 26.2-mile race. Hunter is also a retired Marine and helped officiate the event by participating in activities at the finish line along with former talk-show host and retired Marine Montel Williams.

HOH couldn’t find any other Members who took part in the race; as far as we could tell, Congress’ other fleet feet were elsewhere. But we’ll be happy to issue a lightning-fast apology to any Members we might have missed.

Legislative Laughs. We’ve always known Members of Congress can be funny (albeit sometimes accidentally), but it turns out that Congressional staffers know how to bring the guffaws, too.

Senate staffer John Quirk took home the novice award in D.C.’s Funniest Fed Competition, a multiweek, stand-up comedy battle that concluded Friday at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse. Quirk was one of two winners — Environmental Protection Agency staffer Jeff Maurer won in the experienced category — but he joked to HOH that “being the novice winner feels a lot like being named the starting JV football quarterback, hoping to try out for varsity next season.—

Quirk, who works for the Senate Armed Services Committee, still had the audience in stitches. He recounted sitting behind an unnamed Member at a hearing — contest rules prohibited performers from targeting specific people — who kept spelling Iraq with the letter “k.—

“I thought it was a mistake until I saw them spell Iraqi again with a ‘k.’ All I could think was, ‘Man, that guy is never going to finish that crossword puzzle,’— he joked.

Quirk also joked about a run-in he had with tea bag protesters while driving to work.

“I knew it wasn’t an anti-war protest because it didn’t smell like weed, but it did smell like medicated Gold Bond powder,— he joked. “People are free to say whatever they want, but change your name from ‘tea baggers’ already. Even if you’re hot and bothered over Marxism, no one calls themselves the ‘Hot Karls.’—

Showing his range, Quirk also touched on nonpolitical issues from swine flu to the stalker-esque nature of Facebook to a friend’s upcoming bachelor party in … Colonial Williamsburg.

“That’s right, just as the Founding Fathers intended. I can’t wait to get hammered in a tri-corner hat,— he joked. “Strippers are played out … we are partying with some accused witches.—

Ba-dum-bum.

Friend in Need. Rep. Lee Terry is a broken man, according to Rep. Thaddeus McCotter.

It seems that producers at Fox News late-night show “Red Eye with Greg Gutfeld— canceled a recent appearance with the Nebraska Republican — and that angered McCotter, who (jokingly) stuck up for his friend during his latest appearance.

Holding up a framed photograph of Terry with a black ribbon tied around it, the Michigan Republican told Gutfeld that the cancellation has “broken the man’s heart.—

“He said to me today that he considers you a furry ball of vitriol,— McCotter deadpanned. “I believe an apology is in order.—

Gutfeld apologized to Terry, but another “Red Eye— panelist couldn’t help but poke fun at the photograph. “It’s one thing to walk around with a wallet-sized version of your friend, but that is creepy, sir,— he said.

McCotter’s response: “Unlike the president, I’ve only got so many friends.—

Terry’s broken heart wasn’t the only thing McCotter chatted about — he also weighed in on Red Eye’s in-depth coverage of the drama-infused reality show “The Hills.—

“In all seriousness, the depth of analysis you’ve brought to this pressing issue of the day clearly refutes the White House argument that Fox News is not a news organization,— McCotter said.

Milking It. No matter if the New York Yankees or the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series, this much is certain: There will be cheese.

Whether the fromage takes the form of cheesesteaks (the famed Philadelphia sandwich) or cheesecakes (the classic Big Apple dessert), depends, of course, on the series winner. The New York and Pennsylvania Senate delegations on Monday announced a high-stakes wager: The losers will supply the winners with dairy-licious home-state goodies.

Pennsylvania Democratic Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey have put up a stash of cheesesteaks (Cheez Whiz included, we hope) against Empire State Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand’s pledge of famed Junior’s cheesecakes.

The release announcing the bet included plenty of trash talk, with Schumer touting his beloved Yanks’ 26 titles, Specter prematurely boasting of back-to-back titles for his Phils and each side looking forward to the others’ cheesy offerings.

HOH, of course, is neutral in the matter. To both teams we say: Whey to go!

With Honors. Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard announced on Monday that his office has been named one of the top 50 “Great Places to Work— by Washingtonian Magazine. It’s the second time the CAO has received the honor — it also was named to the list in 2007.

Overheard on the Hill. “Bill Cosby — aka Heathcliff Huxtable, friend of Fat Albert, ‘America’s Dad’ — is no stranger to the nation’s viewers and comedy fans.—

— Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), in a floor statement on Friday, recognizing funnyman Cosby, who was set to collect the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at a ceremony at the Kennedy Center on Monday night.

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