To mark the third anniversary of the Arizona shooting in which she was nearly fatally wounded, ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords took to the friendly skies over her home state to jump out of a functional aircraft. Here’s footage of the sky dive:
Geronimo! (Whose stomping grounds in the Grand Canyon State aren’t too far away from Giffords’ native Tucson, Ariz.)
Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., knew she would be facing a tough re-election battle this year. But she probably didn’t account for the latest development in the North Carolina Senate race: an opponent who’s tight with the Klingons.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Indian Trail Councilman David Waddell has tendered his resignation from the council in a letter written in the language of the Klingon warrior race of “Star Trek” fame, so he can pursue a write-in bid for the Senate.
So as not to confuse his political colleagues, Waddell included an English translation of the letter.
“Waddell ended his four-sentence resignation letter by paraphrasing a Klingon proverb: “Perhaps today is a good day (to) resign,” the newspaper reported.
It was 25 years ago this month that Congress, and the country, braced for the swearing-in of a new Congress that featured not one, but two television stars of the late 1970s and ’80s: Cooter from “The Dukes of Hazzard” and Gopher from “The Love Boat.”
Rep. Fred Grandy, R-Iowa, who played ship’s purser, “Gopher” Smith, on the Pacific Princess from 1977 to 1986, was elected to the People’s House in 1986 and was about to start his second term. Rep. Ben Jones, D-Ga., who played Cooter, mechanic savant good ol’ boy and pal to the Duke Boys from 1979 to 1985, fell short in his first bid for Congress, in 1986. The second time, in 1988, was the charm for Jones, who served two terms before losing his primary bid in 1992 to Rep. Don Johnson.
From the Jan. 15, 1989, edition of Roll Call’s HOH: “Deja Video. With Rep. Ben ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Jones (D-Ga.) joining Rep. Fred ‘Loveboat’ Grandy (R-Iowa) in Congress, the Hill could have its own sitcom. The last time Jones performed in Washington, he played in ‘Desire Under the Elms’ at the Kennedy Center in 1974. ‘The night Richard Nixon resigned,’ he says, ‘they stopped the show between the first and second acts and broadcast his speech over the sound system. That got the biggest applause of the evening.’”
Grandy ran for governor in 1994, but lost in the primary. He went on to head Goodwill Industries, had a career in radio as a talk show host and has dabbled again in acting.
Jones made another run for Congress in Virginia in 2002, but fell short. He runs Cooter’s Place, a Dukes shrine and gift shop that has locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tenn. In 2008, his memoir, “Redneck Boy in the Promised Land: The Confessions of ‘Crazy Cooter,’” was released.
Keeping tabs on all the shenanigans our elected officials get into is what this column is all about. And, as you might have noticed, there’s more than enough ridiculousness to go around.
My former partner, Neda Semnani, was a wiz at ferreting out amazing tidbits about blundering pols and sex-starved government workers. And I manage to stumble into chuckle-worthy happenings every onceinawhile.
But, as we all learned from 80’s screwball comedies, the name of the game is teamwork.
Which is why I would like to lavish praise on all my hardworking CQRC colleagues for always keeping their radars up for bizarre political behavior.
Our entire newsroom helps make this little column shine.
Here’s just a sample of some of the whip-smart reporting I most enjoyed reading this year: Full story
As die-hard HOH fans are undoubtedly aware, this institution underwent a paradigm shift earlier this year when my co-columnist and partner, Neda Semnani, took her leave in order to pursue her dream of becoming a full-fledged author.
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
The indomitable yin to my sophomoric yang, Semnani approached each looming deadline with verve and aplomb.
Armed with incisive wit, a healthy amount of skepticism and a burning desire to crawl inside the headspaces of those who make their living from supposedly exercising the will of the vox populi, Semnani fearlessly probed those in power — and their often tragicomic associates — until she got to the heart of what was really going on.
I miss her every day.
Luckily, I’ve got these gems to remind me of how lucky I was to have worked alongside a true congressional junkie. Full story
Senators briefly set aside their budget deal bickering on Tuesday night for the chamber’s third annual “Secret Santa” gift exchange, organized by Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.
The holiday spirit inspired more than 60 senators to participate, roaming the marble corridors of the second floor with packages containing booze, food, dog toys and model vehicles after enjoying the Christmas cookie spread at the reception.
Vermont Democrat Patrick J. Leahy bellowed out “ho, ho, ho” as he breezed in and out, clutching a new Batman figurine from New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte to add to his extensive collection. Full story
Michelle Lim Warner and Michael Warner, owners of the wine and beer shop DCanter on Barracks Row, are launching a fundraising campaign this month for a cause that’s quite personal to their family.
(Courtesy Michelle Lim Warner)
Carles is a small town on the northeastern edge of Panay Island in the Philippines and was greatly impacted by the recent typhoon that hit the islands. Carles is also where Michelle’s mother and grandmother, who died a few years ago, grew up.
Michelle says she has great memories of visiting the town and she and her mother want to raise $10,000 by Jan. 1 as a part of their Rebuild Carles campaign. According to Michelle, this would build modest, but strong, two-bedroom homes for 15 families. Full story
Rep. Jared Polis pulled out all the stops for this year’s office Christmas party, hosting nearly three dozen holiday revelers — along with a traveling petting zoo — at his Capitol Hill home on Dec. 12.
According to an HOH tipster, the Colorado Democrat allowed guests to spend a few hours getting up close and personal with a slew of cuddly animals, including: bunnies, ducks, sheep, goats, a llama and a mini pig named Junior.
There was even a mini horse on hand for everyone to fawn over.
Team Polis did not respond to multiple emails seeking clarification about the furry party favors. So we may never know whether the pint-sized steed procured by Polis was as revered by those present as NBC’s equine superstar Li’l Sebastian.
But at least one attendee was floored by the entire experience.
“It must be nice to work for a really rich member of Congress who likes to do fun things with his money,” the party-going spy suggested.
In the latest installment of the Roll Call series that examines fictional characters and who represents them in Congress, we look at our favorite Christmas characters.
The rules for Fictional Franchise go like this: We decide where a fictional character lives and then look up who represents them in the House. (See more here.)
George Bailey (James Stewart) “It’s a Wonderful Life” Bedford Falls, N.Y. Republican Rep. Tom Reed
Seneca Falls makes a pretty good case that the upstate New York town is the “real” Bedford Falls.
And so Seneca Falls is not just the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, it’s where Clarence earned his wings and George Bailey lassoed the moon and his future wife, Mary.
Clark W. Griswold (Chevy Chase) “Christmas Vacation” Shermer, Ill. Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider
“Christmas Vacation” is part of writer/director John Hughes’ 1980s anthology of life in suburban Chicago. He based his movies in a town called “Shermer.” Hughes spent his high-school years in the Chicago suburb Northbrook, which was originally called “Shermerville.”
Geography aside, “Christmas Vacation” also functions as a public service announcement against the dangers of using a storm drain as a depository for recreational vehicle sewage.
Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) “Elf” Upper West Side, New York City Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler
Buddy the Elf moves into the Central Park West apartment of his biological father, children’s book publisher Walter Hobbs, according to severalblogs.
But Buddy has connections to another New York City district. He commutes to work at Gimbell’s and in the mailroom of the Empire State Building in Democratic Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney’s 12th District on the east side of Manhattan.
Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) Great Neck, N.Y. Democratic Rep. Steve Israel
Friend of Roll Call/Long Island native/Hotline Editor-in-Chief Steve Shepard weighed in with this analysis.
Per Shepard: “Just a stone’s throw from the Empire State Building is Macy’s Herald Square location, situated on the western edge of Maloney’s district. But in the film, Kris Kringle actually lived at the fictional Brooks Memorial Home for the Aged in Great Neck, N.Y., on Long Island. That makes Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., Santa’s congressman. And presumably Israel would also represent the bucolic suburban home for which Natalie Wood asked Santa.”
It should be noted that Great Neck is also home to Jay Gatsby and Israel’s 3rd District hosts Tony Miglione of Blume’s “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t.”
Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) “A Christmas Story” Hohman, Ind. Democratic Rep. Peter J. Visclosky
Writer Jean Shepherd set “A Christmas Story” in Hohman, which is a stand-in name for his hometown of Hammond, Ind.
Even so, the house used in filming is located in Ohio’s 11th. Democratic Rep. Marcia L. Fudge represents that district that is also home to Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, star pitcher for the Cleveland Indians.
Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) “Home Alone” Winnetka, Ill. Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky
All sorts of crazy went down over one Christmas break in Illinois’ 9th District. The owners of the “Silver Tuna” McCallister household accidentally left their 8-year-old son at home unsupervised as a crime wave involving a pair of burglars named “The Wet Bandits” hit the neighborhood.
Like other John Hughes films, this one is set in the North Shore suburbs. Schakowsky’s 9th District and Schneider’s 10th District bisect the region. The movie was shot in an actual house in the area that is well-documented on YouTube and various blogs. The McCallister house is an identifiable site in the neighborhood and Kevin, like Regina George of “Mean Girls,” is most definitely a Schakowsky constituent.
We love the Internet:
Rudolph T. Reindeer “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Christmastown, Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young
We interpret “Christmastown” to be North Pole, Alaska.
Christmastown is a deceptively cheerful name for the fictional village. Just about everyone in Christmastown, from Santa down to the reindeer calves, exhibits deplorable behavior and discriminates against Rudolph for what they perceive to be a birth defect.
It’s one thing for children to pick on somebody, but where were the adults in Christmastown? Comet? Rudolph’s own father, Donner? Santa?!?
Oh, they were there, bullying Rudolph right along with the children. Completely inexcusable. The ostracism was so unbearable that Rudolph was forced to flee the town with his band of oddball friends.
Oh, hey Santa! We hope that crow tasted delicious!
Given the fact that Hermey the Elf likely does not walk at a fast pace, we have concluded that the Island of Misfit Toys is a river archipelago in the nearby Tanana River.
As for Yukon Cornelius, we assume that judging by his name, he is likely Canadian, and thereby ineligible to vote in American elections.
Mike and Carol Brady (Robert Reed and Florence Henderson) “A Very Brady Christmas” North Hollywood, Los Angeles, Calif. Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman
In 1988, the Bradys reunited for “A Very Brady Christmas,” and the film took a dangerous turn. Mike, an architect, was called away from Christmas dinner after a building collapsed on two security guards. He, too, became trapped when he entered the building. The entire Brady clan raced to the worksite to keep vigil for him.
Carol single-handedly saved Mike through the power of song. Her rendition of “O, Come, All Ye Faithful” summoned the Brady patriarch’s strength to emerge from the rubble.
But the North Hollywood Brady House is only a stone’s throw away from Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas’ 29th District. The 29th is also home to Andrea Zuckerman, star-but-illegal student at West Beverly Hills High of the 90210 ZIP code.
Granted, not everyone has the day off (ahem). But many folks do.
So, have a little fun today. You deserve it.
Spike Mendelsohn’s steak frites joint (313 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) is serving up hot toddys ($5) as well as bowls of French onion soup au gratin partnered with a glass of wine ($10) for those who need something warm in their bellies. And everyone can enjoy all-day happy hour ($2 off any beer, glass or wine or specialty cocktail).
The Capitol Hill watering hole (410 First St. SE) is rolling out frosty beers ($3 Bud Light, Shock Top and Bullfeathers Amber Ale) and winter warmers ($5 bloody marys, hot toddys and Irish coffee) for those willing to brave the elements. Drafts of Breckenridge Vanilla Porter are also on special for $5 today.
The former contributor to President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign told HOH that the Arizona Republican came to his overburdened wife’s rescue while she was out gathering groceries at the Potomac Yard Harris Teeter at 3600 S. Glebe Road in Arlington, Va.
Per Matsdorf, his mother accompanied his wife and newborn daughter to the store. But as they made their way back to the car, grandma had to rush back into the Teeter, leaving mama Matsdorf to wrestle with the bulky baby carrier, a full cart and the rain.
“As she was exiting, McCain was entering with an empty cart. Upon seeing my wife, he immediately stopped and unprompted said, ‘Let me help you,’” Matsdorf said of the kindly gesture. “My wife said ‘no, no’ but he insisted saying, ‘I know how hard it is with kids.’ He then left his empty cart, and pushed my wife’s all the way to our car, which apparently was really far away because my wife couldn’t find parking.”
Once at the car, Matsdorf said McCain even offered to help unload the groceries. But by then his mother had returned, and Team Matsdorf was able to resume control of the parenting fray.
Here’s to knights in shining armor, whatever their political stripe might be.
The parade of self-styled holiday greetings has officially begun. And we dare suggest that the first vanity project to cross our desk may very well win the entire season.
(Courtesy HOH tipster)
For those of you not lucky enough to bask in the glory of House staffer Scott Cunningham’s Christmas correspondence, the legislative aide to Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas, re-purposed his debut on this year’s “50 Most Beautiful” list by The Hill as the backdrop for his personal greeting.
“Making The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful People list? Easy. Sending my Christmas cards out on time? Harder than keeping the government open,” the House GOP aide quipped, referring back to the unscheduled legislative break that was Drunktober.
Cunningham’s bold maneuver (bonus points for making light of the government shutdown, what with Congress unlikely to beat reindeer poop in a public opinion poll right now) made at least one veteran Hill staffer cringe.
“That’s horrible! I’m embarrassed for them,” our source said upon learning of the recycled imagery.
Cunningham did not respond to repeated emails requesting clarification about how many cards were mailed out, or how far the insider-y missive might travel. (Outside the Beltway? All the way back to the Lone Star State?)
Others remain hard at work on the blizzard of creative messaging that blankets congressional offices around this time of year. Full story
But thanks to some sneaky office mates and a mischievous spouse, anyone wandering over to the Cannon House Office Building can share in the present of a peek into his Blue Steel-y past.
The photographic tribute was posted outside Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s office door bright and early Thursday morning as a special tribute for the chief of staff’s 40th birthday.
“I was totally surprised. I had no idea they had anything like this planned,” Platt told HOH about encountering his younger, stone-faced self when he waltzed into work.
According to Platt, his family revels in recirculating the novelty shot at strategically selected times. “This lovely photo is most definitely a glamour shot,” Platt admitted via email. “I did some modeling in high school and college.” Full story