Heard on the Hill: Armey Wrestles With Ventura

Posted March 15, 2010 at 5:16pm

Tea party godfather and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) was supposed to be mapping out the future of the GOP at a speech Monday, but he saved some of his harshest words for an odd target: former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

[IMGCAP(1)]During a speech at the National Press Club, Armey strangely singled out Ventura, an Independent and a former pro wrestler, whose sole contribution to the national discourse at the moment is in his role as the host of the TV show “Conspiracy Theory.”

He noted that Ventura was the only elected official to come out of the wave of unrest that brought Ross Perot to a third-party presidential candidacy in 1994 and 1996. But Ventura was “hardly a great contribution to the welfare of mankind,” Armey opined. And he continued, citing a country song lyric (“my heart can’t take another you”) that he said summed up his feelings about Ventura.

Later, when it seemed the rant was long over, Armey returned to the subject. “I don’t mean to be too hard on Jesse Ventura, but don’t you think he’s been acting bizarre lately?” he asked the crowd. “Seems strange to me.”

Other things Armey revealed in the speech that he doesn’t like include sociology and English classes at Duke University, which he singled out as lightweight pursuits (he thinks people should be reading heavy economic thinkers like Friedrich von Hayek — not easy stuff like John Maynard Keynes, whom he said any sixth-grader could grasp), and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (whom he described as “more inept than I thought … but not as mean”).

Armey’s likes, though, are simple: the late President Ronald Reagan, Stetson hats (he proudly showed off his own rare model) and the Internet, which he said would keep activists vigilant and organized.

Baring It Al. There was a naked Al Gore on the Senate floor Monday. But the former vice president and Democratic Senator from Tennessee wasn’t streaking his old workplace — the nude Gore was courtesy of a large poster that Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) brought to the floor to serve as a backdrop for an anti-global-warming speech.

Inhofe used the startling image — a large blowup of a cover illustration for the Weekly Standard magazine that featured Gore in the buff, standing on what looks like a polar tundra, while two polar bears look on and giggle — to illustrate his criticism of Gore’s climate change crusade.

Inhofe, a vocal critic of climate change, said Gore is “drowning in a sea of his global warming illusions” and noted that the former veep is holding a “high-level meeting of global warming alarmists.”

A Democratic staffer who saw the poster sniffed that it was “not Senatorial,” but an Inhofe spokesman says his boss just couldn’t resist. “As soon as he saw it, he knew he wanted to give a speech,” the spokesman says.

She’s Just Not That Into You. Sen. Claire McCaskill is arguably the most prolific Twitterer in Congress — but interestingly enough, the Missouri Democrat follows just one person on the social messaging Web site. The reason? She just has too many followers to follow.

McCaskill posted an entry on her tumblr blog on Friday afternoon titled “Why I Don’t Follow You,” explaining to readers why she has more than 36,000 followers but only follows one. The Senator writes that this has led to criticism — “One recent blogger has declared that I’m arrogant,” she notes — but she further explains, “If I followed people I would get so many tweets about so many subjects, it would be so much harder for me to get through all the tweets to find those that relate to my work on behalf of Missourians.”

“I could take the easy route and say I’m following thousands of people,” she writes. “But that would feel dishonest because I really would not have the time to read all of their tweets.”

McCaskill says that unlike many Members, she manages her own Twitter account and posts her own tweets. Her posts range from political to personal — for example, she tweeted Saturday: “Good news for the economy. The mall is packed. Can’t find a parking spot.”

And McCaskill points out that when people message her via the site, she typically messages back.

“Some weeks I tweet a lot, others not so much. But without fail I read every single tweet I receive,” she writes. “Ok, maybe I gloss over a few ‘form’ tweets, but I sincerely make an effort to read all.”

So who is the lucky person McCaskill follows on Twitter? Adrianne Marsh, her former spokeswoman.

Power Ball. GOP Kentucky Senate candidate Trey Grayson revealed scandalous intel about primary opponent Rand Paul over the weekend — the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) graduated from Duke University. Gasp!

While being a Duke alum is normally positive, it is NCAA Tournament time. Duke is a major rival of the University of Kentucky — and both are No. 1 seeds in this year’s college basketball tourney.

So Grayson, who received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his MBA from UK, is taking advantage of Paul’s educational roots (he received a doctorate in medicine from Duke), offering supporters bumper stickers reading “BEAT DUKE Vote Grayson” and running similarly themed television ads.

Grayson spokesman Nate Hodson says the basketball-themed initiative provides a fun way to push Grayson’s campaign.

“Plus, it lets us show some pride in the Commonwealth during an exciting time of year. There’s no place like Kentucky during March,” he says.

Paul didn’t find the message so funny: “I guess that might be a real issue if you’re running for student council. It’s especially funny watching my Harvard-educated opponent complain about where I went to medical school.”

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Daniel Mongiardo (a UK grad) offered a friendly NCAA tourney wager to rival Jack Conway (a Duke alum). But Conway turned him down, saying it would “cheapen America’s greatest sporting event.”

News From the Internets. Sen. Scott Brown’s rise to the Senate is often compared to that of another charismatic politician who once walked Congressional halls: President Barack Obama. This weekend, the Massachusetts Republican even overtook Obama’s popularity on one front.

Brown delivered the Republican weekly address, and as of Monday afternoon, more than 28,700 people had viewed it on YouTube. As for the prez’s weekly address? Only about 4,700 people watched it on the video-sharing Web site.

Of course, Obama’s address can be viewed multiple places, including the White House Web site, so the YouTube numbers might not fully reflect how many people watched it. But GOPers were still giddy, with one joking, “I doubt we’ll see a blowout this big in the entire NCAA tourney.”

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