Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

December 10, 2012

Ode to Ben Nelson’s Hair

Retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson might have given Majority Leader Harry Reid his share of legislative headaches over the years, but at the end of the day, he has a great head of hair and he likes to sing, so he can’t be all bad.

“I mean, that is a mop of real hair,” the Nevada Democrat said of Nelson. “It’s often that people call his office, email his office; they believe he has a toupee. It’s his hair. He’ll pull it for you any time just to show that it’s real. He has hair like a 15-year-old.”
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Wishing Departing Leaders a Fond Adieu

Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming wants to ensure his predecessors don’t leave town with a bad taste in their mouths. So the good doctor is sending off RPC alumni with cake and kind words.

Retiring Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona will be honored at a farewell reception scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in Russell 347.
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Would Colbert Pull Plug on ‘Report’?

In the unlikely event satirical pundit Stephen Colbert is appointed the new senator from South Carolina, he’ll be faced with the greatest decision of his lifetime: whether he is willing to give up his highly acclaimed TV show.
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Time-Traveling Tea Party

FreedomWorks is trying to turn back time.

The conservative advocacy group sent a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner last week, lambasting him for ousting four tea-party-aligned lawmakers from powerful committees.

But the letter was dated Dec. 5, 2011. Because, really, wasn’t 2011 better?

Time Traveling Tea Party

(Screenshot)

This time last year, FreedomWorks still had a prestigious chairman, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey. (He resigned two weeks ago in the wake of a row with FreedomWorks CEO Matt Kibbe.) And the group’s ultra-conservative friends on Capitol Hill were still riding high after scoring at least a few points during negotiations over the debt ceiling.

Now, Kibbe is fending off allegations that he used donor money to promote his book and hid the source of more than $12 million in contributions from the departed chairman. Meanwhile, high-level staffers have followed Armey to the exit.

So, if there was any doubt the FreedomWorks headquarters was distracted last week, well … just saying.

Or maybe it was tea party dreaming, noted FreedomWorks spokeswoman Jackie Bodnar.

“Must have been a typo,” she said in an email to HOH. “Or maybe it was wishful thinking since the debt was about $1.5 trillion lower around this time in 2011 than it is currently.”

Fiscal Cliff Flix

If our elected leaders refuse to step up, HOH fan Stephen Childress suggests sending in the big guns:

Childress, who created the montage and posted it under the guise of “Paul Runge” — an homage to the Atlanta Braves’ former utility infielder — said he’s had it with all the blathering on about the fiscal cliff. He decided to have some fun with the mounting paranoia. Voila, the tribute video was born. Full story

Fog Clouds Senate Schedule

When the Senate opened for business Monday, observers saw a familiar face in an unfamiliar place.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., presided over the opening of the chamber, leading the Senate in the Pledge of Allegiance and recognizing Majority Leader Harry Reid for his opening comments.

“It’s very unusual to have one of the most senior members of the Senate presiding, and especially at this time of the day,” the Nevada Democrat said with Leahy in the chair. “We had a little emergency here today. The senator that was expected to be here — because of the fog that we have around the eastern part of the United States — was unable to be here, and you agreed to come.”

The job of presiding over the Senate is a largely thankless task that falls to the chamber’s more junior members. Newer Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Chris Coons of Delaware often preside Monday afternoons.

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Stephen Colbert Senate Groundswell Continues

If Palmetto State voters had their way, satirical newsman and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert would be their new senator, according to a new poll by Public Policy Polling.

A whopping 20 percent of South Carolina voters would like to see Colbert appointed to the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who announced last week that he is resigning to head up the Heritage Foundation.

Stephen Colbert Senate Groundswell Continues

Stephen Colbert, shown here at the Federal Election Commission offices in 2011, is no stranger to the Capitol. (File photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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‘Downton Abbey’ Cast Comes to D.C. Thursday

“Downton Abbey’s” long-awaited season three stateside premiere is coming! Wanna know what’s even better? Certain members of the cast are coming to Washington on Thursday to watch it at the British ambassador’s residence.

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December 9, 2012

Manchin Takes Aim at MTV’s ‘Buckwild’

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III is none too pleased about a new MTV reality show set in his home state that’s been described as “the ‘Jersey Shore’ of Appalachia.”

The show, “Buckwild,” follows nine party animals from Sissonville, W.Va., who seek to get, well, buckwild in their small town of about 4,000 people.

Basically, it’s “Jersey Shore” with a less-tan cast that wears camouflage instead of leopard print.
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Merry Drinkmas, D.C.! Bars to Extend Hours

The inauguration might still be more than a month away, but the D.C. government is already gifting us all the opportunity to remain in our cups the entire week leading up to the official swearing-in.

For those who might have spent President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration weekend in a self-induced haze, the city responded in-kind to the crush of humanity that flooded the streets to witness the historic event by authorizing entertainment venues to stay open around the clock and ply patrons with booze until predawn during the five days just before 44 placed his hand on the good book.
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Rank and File Waiting For White Smoke

Lawmakers not on the front line of the fiscal cliff negotiations seem to be having several reactions to the negotiations: Pretend to work, look out for smoke and save Christmas.

Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Ohio, explained that at this point, there’s not much for those of us not named President Barack Obama or Speaker John A. Boehner to do.
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Senate Preps for Secret Santa Swap (the Sequel)

With the fiscal cliff negotiations threatening to ruin everyone’s holidays, senators are getting their Christmas cheer on now, gathering Monday for another anonymous gift exchange hatched by Minnesota Democrat Al Franken.

Franken threw his first Secret Santa affair last year, a bipartisan lovefest at which 62 lawmakers shared the likes of trucker caps, craft beer, gourmet chocolate, hot sauce and actual coal. “I got a really great book from Sen. [Joseph I.] Lieberman,” Franken said of his personal haul, though he insisted that the ultimate objective was to “create comity and good cheer in an institution badly in need of both.”
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December 7, 2012

Malkovich Brings Sexy to D.C. Until Monday

When was the last time a play got you all hot and bothered?

Actor and director John Malkovich’s lauded production of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” has leapt over the Atlantic for a too-short stint at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s smaller Lansburgh Theater.

And we’re going to wager most of the audience had to fan their faces and grip their pearls at some point during the show. Full story

#SenatorColbert: Stephen Colbert Listens to Mainstream Media

In what might be his first stumble as a conservative pundit, Stephen Colbert has decided to listen to the lamestream media.

Following Sen. Jim DeMint’s surprise announcement that the tea party hero will leave the Senate for the top slot at the conservative Heritage Foundation, the mainstream media, including Heard on the Hill, took to social media to pontificate (read: hope) that Comedy Central star Colbert would be a candidate for the seat, which will be filled by Gov. Nikki R. Haley.

Last night, Colbert — citing Roll Call and other media outlets — encouraged his supporters to tweet “#SenatorColbert” at Haley, hoping to annoy her into appointing him junior senator from South Carolina.

In what might have been a rookie move, Colbert seems to be bending to mainstream media pressure. This is a no-no in most conservative circles.

For our part, however, HOH would like to thank Colbert for reading Roll Call. Colbert is truly today’s candidate tomorrow and tomorrow’s candidate today.

Lots and Lots of Gephardt

The Missouri History Museum loves Dick Gephardt.

The former Democratic leader bequeathed the museum decades of official documents, snapshots and, lucky for us, all manner of video footage upon his retirement from Congress in 2005.

The MHM Vimeo channel, which currently boasts more than 720 videos, had, until three weeks ago, pretty much been dormant. The earliest entry (posted in 2009) showcases model steam trains barreling around a museum display, while subsequent installments include a grainy, black-and-white documentary about ‘The Vanishing Ozarks” (2010) and a series of interviews for something called “Weavers’ Guild” (2011).

The museum has uploaded almost 200 Gephardt clips just this week.

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