Heard on the Hill: Burger Battle Royal (With Cheese)

Posted March 3, 2010 at 6:51pm

The burger options are burgeoning on Capitol Hill, but one Member of Congress with burger expertise says the newest patty on the block isn’t anything to write home about.

[IMGCAP(1)]A new addition to the bank of vending machines across the hall from the House-side takeout in the Capitol dispenses entrees, including burgers and chicken sandwiches. HOH wondered how the new burger — arguably the most convenient on the Hill, since it’s available at the push of a button — stacked up against the competition.

To test it out, we enlisted Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a self-proclaimed burger aficionado, for a blind taste test. Chaffetz has serious beefy bona fides: He’s made a study of the town’s best burgers, proclaiming his favorite to be from Five Guys, and often tweets about his burger runs.

Chaffetz tasted the vending machine burger alongside ones from the House takeout grill and another from the Cannon House Office Building carryout (which House officials say is known as the favorite burger in the Capitol complex). The verdict: The machine-dispensed burger is a big loser.

The House takeout burger was so-so, Chaffetz determined (“tastes more like meat”), and the Cannon burger got an actual thumbs up (he polished off the whole burger and declared it “pretty good”). But the vending machine burger, which, we must note, comes from a machine labeled “Big Az Burger,” was all but inedible, Chaffetz says. “If there was nuclear fallout — if there was nuclear war, I don’t know that I would actually eat this,” he said after taking only one bite.

And not only was the new burger at the bottom of the heap, at $3, it was more expensive than the winning burger from Cannon, which was a bargain at only $2.45.

Have a Nice Day. Paging South Carolina GOP Rep. Joe Wilson … the D.C. Council has declared March 20 to be “Polite Day,” a day in which Washingtonians are urged simply to be kind and civil toward one another.

The resolution’s author, Councilmember Harry Thomas, says he wants the message to spread through the city, which amid all the BlackBerry-ing and the horn-honking and the mud-slinging seems to be a less-than-friendly place these days. Thomas even says that he hopes the goodwill-toward-men spirit will ultimately even reach politicians.

Thomas says Capitol Hill could use a gentle reminder on civility. “On the Hill, you have people who come from little towns where everyone is polite, and they get caught up in the hustle-bustle lifestyle,” he tells HOH. “We need to remind ourselves to be kind to one another, and the Hill is no different.”

Polite Day falls on a Saturday, when many Members of Congress are back in their districts, but HOH couldn’t help but think they could benefit from a day celebrating simply being nice.

So mark your calendars … uh, please.

Grandpa Knows Best. Sen. Patrick Leahy took time out of his day on Wednesday to give a middle school class a tour of the Capitol, and the group of students included someone with unique access to the Vermont Democrat — Leahy’s tween grandson.

HOH hears that the Senator and his wife, Marcelle, showed the group of about 60 students from the Maryland middle school that his grandson attends around Capitol Hill, dishing out plenty of history along the way.

“They were some of the most curious and attentive visitors I’ve ever taken on a Capitol tour, and it’s a tonic to meet with a group like that,” Leahy tells HOH. “As a bonus, our 12-year-old grandson was delighted to show that he’s taller than his grandmother and closing in on his grandfather.”

(And that’s a tall order, considering Leahy measures well over 6 feet.)

An HOH tipster who spotted the group described the tour in an e-mail as “sssooo cute,” noting that the boys in the group wore ties and khakis and walked “like little ducklings at Leahy’s feet.”

Everybody now: Aw.

Dumbest (Alleged) Criminal Ever. Along with keeping Capitol Hill safe, the fine men and women of the Capitol Police occasionally
run into some shockingly stupid criminals.

But 27-year-old D.C. resident Cornelius Thompson might top them all (although HOH notes he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law).

The Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police departments were called to the Bank of America branch at Second Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast on Monday afternoon in response to an attempted bank robbery. Now, while a perpetrator attempting to rob a bank literally steps from the Capitol might seem bold — there is nearly always at least one Capitol Police officer posted at
that intersection, after all — the wannabe John Dillinger did initially manage to avoid police capture and flee the scene.

But the suspect wasn’t on the lam for long … and things soon got much worse for him.

Officers quickly spotted a man who matched the description of the would-be robber heading southbound on nearby Fourth Street Southeast. And according to a Capitol Police report, the cops watched as he “tore open a large plastic bag in an attempt to discard a green leafy substance.”

Officers nabbed the guy and tested the “green leafy substance,” which was found to be (surprise!) marijuana.

The suspect, later identified by a Capitol Police spokeswoman as Thompson, was then placed under arrest and initially charged with felony possession with an intent to distribute.

Take note, kids: If you are planning to rob a bank branch that is literally surrounded by police officers, leave the huge stash of pot at home.

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