Heard on the Hill: Taking a Break From C-SPAN

Posted June 23, 2010 at 6:27pm

Just imagine what the halls of Congress would sound like if some soccer fans got their wish and the games were higher scoring. As it was, the USA-Algeria matchup in the World Cup tournament on Wednesday was plenty rowdy — the cheers during Team USA’s dramatic, game-clinching goal could be heard throughout the Capitol complex.

And while many staffers stayed at their desks to watch, about 100 of them dropped by the screening sponsored by the Congressional Soccer Caucus and the U.S. Soccer Foundation in the Rayburn House Office Building, organizers said.

The event lent an official gloss to goofing off at work, and HOH spotted a few chiefs of staff munching on snacks while taking in the game on the giant screens set up for the occasion. At least one Member had World Cup fever, too: We hear Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) stopped by to take in part of the match.

The event had a surprise guest: NASA astronaut Patrick Forrester snuck out of NASA Day events going on elsewhere in Rayburn to join the crowd.

U.S. Soccer Foundation President Ed Foster-Simeon tells HOH that the event not only gave his organization a chance to showcase the sport, but it also allowed Members and staffers to watch the game under the guise of a work function. “We’re pleased at the turnout,” he said. “As the tournament has unfolded, interest has increased … and it doesn’t get any closer than this.” (That was when the U.S. and Algeria were locked in a 0-0 draw, before the U.S. scored its game-winning goal).

Rallying Around the Little Ones

Actress/celebrity mom Jennifer Garner returns to Capitol Hill today to continue her quest to increase government funding for early childhood education.

The “Valentine’s Day” star will appear alongside Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Save the Children Managing Director Mark Shriver (brother of California first lady Maria Shriver) and a group of kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Annapolis (ID-Aww) at a morning news conference in support of President Barack Obama’s proposed Early Learning Challenge Fund. Garner will also lobby Members to increase funding for early education programs in the upcoming education budget, which is scheduled to be considered in the next month, HOH hears.

It’s a return visit to D.C. for Garner, who also came to Congress in September to lobby on early education issues.

No Bad: Members Honor Bol

It’s not every day that the phrase “my bad” is uttered on the Senate floor.

But that’s just what happened Tuesday, when Sen. Sam Brownback paid tribute to former Washington Bullets star Manute Bol, who died Saturday.

The Kansas Republican praised the 7-foot-7-inch Bol for his impressive NBA career and tireless dedication to charitable efforts in his native Sudan. And Brownback also pointed out that Bol contributed to the popular lexicon with an iconic phrase.

“Manute coined the idiom or the phrase ‘my bad,’ which quickly became the standard for those players owning up to their own errors on the court,” Brownback explained. “‘My bad.’ To own up to one’s own mistakes is a true measure of one’s character, and it is no surprise that Manute leaves this legacy to the NBA.”

(For all those language-origin sticklers out there, HOH points out there’s some debate as to whether Bol actually thought up “my bad” himself, although there’s no doubt that he helped popularize it.)

Brownback’s fellow Kansan Rep. Dennis Moore (D) also paid tribute to Bol. When Bol moved to the Sunflower State in 2007, he launched Sudan Sunrise to help educate and improve living conditions for children in Sudan, Moore noted. “It is my hope that we in Congress … continue the mission he has begun,” Moore said.

Stone Makes the Rounds

Director Oliver Stone says he has a bone to pick with the mainstream media — and he certainly picked the perfect forum to do so during a trip to D.C. on Wednesday.

Stone is in town this week to promote his latest film, “South of the Border,” which studies what the director argues is a widespread negative misconception of Central and South American governments (most notably that of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez) that’s perpetuated by American media outlets. And Stone stopped by the National Press Club to talk about the movie, telling reporters that he’s “not here to pick a fight. Well, maybe a little.”

Stone interviewed Chavez and six other presidents in the region to make the documentary, calling it “a political road movie to show a little bit of Hugo.” Stone says the film presents a far more democratic picture of Latin America than what Americans normally read about in newspapers. “This film is designed to make you think,” he says.

Stone also was scheduled to screen the film at the AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival in Silver Spring, Md., on Wednesday afternoon, and he was to be toasted at a special dinner in his honor at Teatro Goldoni on Wednesday night.

Overheard on the Hill

“The Senate has almost as many versions of holds as pro wrestling, and the power to tie the Senate in knots is just as incapacitating as a smackdown wrestling move.”

— Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), testifying Wednesday before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee in support of eliminating secret holds.

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