Heard on the Hill: State of the Art

Posted November 18, 2009 at 6:59pm

Sen. Al Franken’s unique skill of drawing an accurate map of the United States from memory is pretty darn impressive, but it looks like the Minnesota Democrat has some emerging competition on the artistic front.

[IMGCAP(1)]As part of Geography Awareness Week, National Geographic asked all 100 Senators to draw a map of their home states, completely from memory, with at least three important places labeled.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the doodles of a dozen Senators had made it onto the National Geographic Web site, some of them being of higher artistic quality than others.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R), for example, just needed a regular old rectangle — that is the general shape of his home state of Wyoming, after all. But rather impressively, Enzi did outline Yellowstone National Park in the northwest corner of the state and drew the Devils Tower, considered the “first national monument,— in the northeast.

Most Members just used dots to note the important cities or landmarks in their states. Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Jack Reed (R.I.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.) highlighted their hometowns, while Republican Sen. James Risch (Idaho) showcased nearly 20 landmarks.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) is our favorite Senatorial artist: He noted Chicago, the state capital of Springfield and the southern city of Metropolis, labeled as the “HOME OF SUPERMAN.—

Franken also took part, including not only an outline of Minnesota but the states that border the Land of 10,000 Lakes as well. Guess he couldn’t help but show off a little.

The Bet That Never Was? Normally Members’ sports-related friendly wagers aren’t terribly complicated, but one over this year’s World Series appears to need a team of lawyers to sort it out.

In Wednesday’s column, HOH wrote that Rep. Robert Brady took heat for not following through on a wager with Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.) over the Fall Classic, stipulating that the loser would shave his hair into a mohawk. But the Pennsylvania Democrat personally called HOH on Wednesday to insist he always makes good on his bets — he didn’t end up shaving his hair when his beloved Philadelphia Phillies lost because he never actually made the wager, he said.

According to Brady, what happened is that before the World Series, he put out the bet to any Member of Congress supporting the New York Yankees. Hall was the only Member brave enough to come forward — but Brady refused to make the bet with a guy who is mostly bald.

Hall would have to “get a Chia Pet— to do a mohawk properly, Brady joked.

“I’m not that stupid,— Brady added. “How would I bet somebody to shave their head when they have nothing to give?—

Nonetheless, a jubilant Hall tried (and failed) to get Brady into the barber’s chair after the Yankees’ big victory, even harassing him on gossip site TMZ.com.

Guess he should have gotten it in writing. “If I would have made the bet, you’d see me in a mohawk,— Brady insisted.

Hoop Dreams. Retired pro basketballer John Salley won four championships with three teams during his stint in the National Basketball Association, but the hoops-star-turned-commentator will have to wait to play his dream matchup.

“I wanted to come and play basketball against [President Barack] Obama, but he had to be in Asia,— Salley lamented to HOH during a Capitol Hill visit Wednesday.

Salley came to Congress to lobby on behalf of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, asking Members to support legislation that would increase vegetarian options in meals served in public schools.

Salley, a vegan who has his own line of natural food products, was scheduled to meet with Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Democratic Reps. Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), John Conyers (Mich.), Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (Mich.) and Edolphus Towns (N.Y.).

Salley also appeared alongside Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.) at a morning event. “The only thing that I have difficulty with is that you played for the Pistons,— joked Kucinich, a loyal fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kucinich added that Salley promoted “in your face— basketball during his time in the pros, noting such tactics would be “interesting to apply to politics.—

Salley, by the way, could have nabbed a private tour of the White House, but since he’s already visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. after his various NBA title wins, he opted to give his ticket to his assistant.

Now that’s sportsmanship.

No Turkey TV Dinners After All? There’s a glimmer of hope for Senate staffers fretting that their visions of a Thanksgiving spent tossing a pigskin and gorging on turkey would be dashed by Senate leaders’ plans to stick around well into the holiday week to vote on health care legislation.

It seems Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has some pre-holiday plans himself. The Nevada Democrat is slated to appear at a Nov. 24 event in Las Vegas thanking campaign volunteers.

HOH could practically hear a collective cheer on Capitol Hill when the Nevada State Democratic Party issued an e-mail Wednesday announcing Reid would be headlining the Tuesday event. Leaders had been threatening to keep the chamber in through the holiday week — and in fact, Republicans have threatened to read aloud the entire bill — which doubtless would have wreaked havoc with travel plans.

Better keep those elastic-waist pants at the ready.

Overheard on the Hill. “What that means is that you wouldn’t want to be around me.—

— Rep. Jared Polis, on what would happen if he drank cow’s milk, during an event on vegetarian school lunch options Wednesday. The Colorado Democrat is lactose-intolerant and opts for soy milk instead.

Sara Bondioli contributed to this report.

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