Heard on the Hill: Just an Excuse for Partying?

Posted July 23, 2010 at 5:52pm

D.C. summers are hot enough to drive anyone to drink. But for Rep. John Yarmuth, drinking on the clock is part of the job.

The Kentucky Democrat founded the Congressional Bourbon Caucus about a year and a half ago, inspired by the work of the Congressional Wine Caucus. Yarmuth’s caucus now has about 20 members who work to amend trade laws and tax issues connected to bourbon.

When HOH caught up with Yarmuth last week at a cognac tasting at the French ambassador’s residence, he was quick to chat about his love of bourbon (even though he was caught sipping the rival French spirit).

Bourbon is “the only indigenous spirit in America,” he said.

Yarmuth enjoys drinking bourbon on the rocks and said his favorite place to enjoy a good cocktail in D.C. is downtown’s Willard InterContinental Hotel. Yarmuth likes his drink with a side of history: The hotel’s Round Robin Bar is where 19th-century Kentucky Sen. Henry Clay allegedly introduced the mint julep to Washington, he noted.

Taxicab Confessions, D.C. Style

And now for a story that only could have happened in Washington.

HOH hears Rep. Michael McCaul recently was kind enough to share a cab on Capitol Hill with a group of strangers, a friendly gesture that doesn’t happen all that often in this hard-nosed town.

But that’s not the kicker.

When the Texas Republican exited the taxi, the group was so grateful that McCaul let them share his cab that it offered to pay the Congressman’s fare.

“No, I can’t let you do that,” the lawyer and politician replied. “I’m on the ethics committee.”

Rep. Costello Takes Cutsies

Members of Congress can bypass security to get into the Capitol, but that doesn’t mean they should take cuts whenever they don’t want to wait — at least according to one attendee at last week’s American Meat Institute’s annual Hot Dog Lunch.

More than 1,500 people crowded into the Rayburn House Office Building courtyard to chow down on the free hot dogs that were given out as part of the festivities. Many people also lined up to meet three baseball legends who were on hand signing autographs — Chicago Cubs pitcher Lee Smith, New York Yankees great Ron Guidry and Atlanta Braves star Dale Murphy.

But according to an HOH spy, Rep. Jerry Costello didn’t bother standing in line to get his autograph.

The Illinois Democrat breezed past the folks who were patiently waiting to get Lee’s signature, our spy says. When attendees complained about Costello taking cuts, the Congressman’s staff told them that he needed to pass because “he was a Member of Congress,” our spy adds.

But our spy didn’t buy the excuse, noting other Members calmly waited their turns.

A Costello spokesman told HOH the Congressman didn’t mean to offend; a staffer working the event brought him to the table.

‘Idol’ Star Says She ‘Wasn’t Nervous’ About White House

Landing on “American Idol” won’t just get you a record deal — it also might give you the chance to meet with key White House advisers.

“Idol” season nine runner-up Crystal Bowersox and her castmates visited the D.C. region last week to perform at the Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater for the reality competition’s annual summer concert tour. But Bowersox also stopped by 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. on Friday to lobby on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, seeking federal funding for Type 1 diabetes research. The singer spoke from personal experience: She was diagnosed with the disease at age 6.

“It was my first time in D.C., and I went to the White House,” Bowersox told HOH, although she said she didn’t have time to do much touristy stuff.

After the concert tour wraps up, Bowersox might have a future in Washington: She told us that she “wasn’t nervous at all” about her big White House meeting. “I was there to shake hands and get the job done.”

Overheard on the Hill

“You cannot feed road signs to your kids. They are made of aluminum, degreasing agents, and reflective film. They don’t taste good.”

— Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite in a July 20 floor speech. The Florida Republican protested the signs posted at construction sites that were funded by last year’s stimulus package.

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