If there is one thing Congress does somewhat well, it’s theatrics disguised as debate. In the midst of the usual end-of-year milieu, there has been even more showboating than normal, particularly on the Senate floor. Which brings us to this week’s Capitol Quip.
Send us a caption for this week’s contest by leaving it in the comments section of our Heard on the Hill blog. Editors will pick five finalists on Wednesday, and everyone can vote for the winner through Thursday.
To see our previous winners, check us out on Pinterest.
Sure, he may be lagging behind social-media darlings Sen. Marco “Watergate” Rubio, R-Fla., and GOP filibuster twins Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas — each boasting about 436,000 followers, 250,000 followers and 161,000 followers, respectively — in terms of online adulation.
But Colorado Democrat Mark Udall proved Friday that he knows how to cram a whole lotta attention-getters into 140 characters:
Whereas most pols appear satisfied with sneaking one, two or, every once in a blue moon, a trio of hashtag threads into their average Twitter missive, Udall managed to shoehorn in an unprecedented half-dozen potentially trending topics into his denunciation of a potential government shutdown.
Perhaps it is a good time for AMC’s “Breaking Bad” to wrap things up. Once politics gets a hold of you, it’s only a matter of time before you jump the shark, and the story of chemistry-teacher-turned-drug lord Walter White has assiduously amped up the pressure, avoiding the shark-infested pop Rubicon so far.
Case in point? The National Republican Congressional Committee has started selling its “Breaking Dems” poster, a riff on the Emmy-award winning show that spells out its targets for the 2014 cycle:
In his latest animation, “Republican Doomsday Cult” — during which the narrator explains, “We must cut everything. Lest the devil of compromise returns” — the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist posits that Republicans John A. Boehner of Ohio, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas are deliberately leading the entire country toward certain destruction.
“When you have the Republican Speaker of the House threatening a national default, food stamps being slashed while farm subsidies are increased and an attempt to defund a program that has been in existence for four years, things have gone to crazy-land,” Fiore argues on his personal blog. Full story
Dogged researcher Anthony Clark wants to peel back the curtain on what he believes might be the most blatantly revisionist outlets to ever operate on the taxpayers’ dime: presidential libraries.
His forthcoming exposé, “The Last Campaign,” delves into the secretive world of how former presidents and their privately funded foundations put the happiest face possible on all that they accomplished, while also striving to sweep any negativity under the rug.
According to Clark, most modern presidential foundations — and, by extension, the monolithic showplaces they spawn — have abandoned any semblance of being merely academic, assuming more of an activist role in rehabilitating their namesakes’ legacies.
Say what you will about what some may regard as the GOP’s historical disdain for the arts, but Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has inspired the left to read more, pen its own political poetry and even canvass constituents in verse.
Cruz threw open the creative floodgates by channeling Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, during his 21-hour, non-filibuster of President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul.
His reading of “Green Eggs and Ham” — a parable about fearing the unknown only to later grow to love the new experience — may have fallen on deaf ears in the Senate, but resonated with critics elsewhere.
Illinois Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley did a little storytelling of his own, warning House members against the dangers of obstructionism. Full story
House Republicans might be rethinking their Friday night movie plans after word got out that the members would be hitting up the Regal in Chinatown to see “Prisoners.”
In a series of emails obtained by CQ Roll Call, Republican staffers revealed that House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., wants to do a movie night for the Republican members in town. And the plan is to see “Prisoners.”
That’s when Erica Elliott, the spokeswoman for McCarthy, asks a prescient question:
“Any chance the media reads WAY too much into the title of the movie, Prisoners?”
To answer Ms. Elliott’s question: yes.
Democrats, including President Barack Obama, have made a concerted effort to cast Republicans as the bad guys for taking the nation’s credit “hostage” for a “wish list” of demands. Obama says he will not negotiate. Speaker John A. Boehner says, “I’m sorry, but it doesn’t work that way.”
So when Republicans landed on “Prisoners” for their Friday night flick, it was probably going to raise some Democratic eyebrows — or at least prompt some Democratic press releases.
“Given Speaker Boehner’s crusade to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage to Tea Party ransom demands, it’s not surprising that, in their free time, the Republican Conference would choose to spend their Friday night watching a film together about hostage taking.” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s communications director told CQ Roll Call.
“Perhaps, given the group, ‘Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs’ would be more appropriate for their movie night,” Hammill said.
But HOH will note that if you haven’t seen the original “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” then the sequel, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2″ (which is the movie actually playing at Regal), probably isn’t worth your time.
In fact, nothing at Regal looks all that good.
“Insidious: Chapter 2” — There was a Chapter 1?
“Don Jon” — Let’s not even go there.
“The Family” — 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so …
“Rush” — We think House Republicans, like us, have grown tired of Ron Howard.
“Baggage Claim” — 14 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” — Seen it.
“Battle of the Year 3D” — Also ripe for ridicule, especially if you’re spotted in the 3D glasses.
“The World’s End” — Hard to see how that’s much better than “Prisoners.”
So “Prisoners,” with a 79 percent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes and 90 percent audience approval, may not be the worst Friday night flick — even if Democrats are delighting in the choice.
Elliott, who took a stern tone over the matter using words like “confirm” and “logistics,” said Republicans were still figuring out which movie to see.
“I can confirm that our office has had internal discussions about potential member services activities this weekend. I can also confirm that a member of Minority Leader Pelosi’s staff was mistakenly copied on the email chain and chose to forward it to members of the media. At this time, no final decisions have been made about logistics for this weekend,” Elliott said.
With the government days away from shutting down, and Republicans still searching for votes on a measure to raise the debt ceiling, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took some time Thursday to focus on what’s really important: the children.
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Of course, the children in question just happened to be accompanied by NASCAR superstar Denny Hamlin and supermodel Niki Taylor.
The Virginia Republican met with the group, representing the March of Dimes, in his office to hear about their legislative priorities. At the top of their list are a Senate-passed bill to expand research and education on preterm birth and one of Cantor’s bills to end taxpayer financing for presidential campaigns and conventions and shift funding to pediatric research.
Hamlin, driver of NASCAR’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota, showed political shrewdness by getting straight to the point.
“The key to research is funding,” he told Cantor.
The majority leader agreed but noted to knowing chuckles, “There are things going on right now having to do with funding the government period.” Full story
The Republican Communications Association and Democratic Communicators Network are burying the hatchet just long enough to co-host a “hacks and flacks” happy hour Thursday at Top of the Hill (319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE).
The bipartisan mixer is scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. at the back bar.
Political scribes looking to bend the elbow with congressional mouthpieces should RSVP to RCA@mail.house.gov.
It’s a cash bar scenario. But a Top of the Hill aide assured HOH the standard happy hour specials — $3 Bud Lights, $5 house red or white wine and $5 Stolichnaya/flavored Stoli mixed drinks — will be in effect.
Neighborhood dive Billy Goat Tavern has decided to get in on all the kinda-sorta-filibuster fun by dishing out a green eggs and ham special commemorating Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s recent dramatic reading of Dr. Seuss.
The politically inspired repast includes mint-colored eggs, hash browns, grilled ham and your choice of toast (white or wheat) for $4.75.
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)
Billy Goat (500 New Jersey Ave. NW) is serving the hearty-har-har breakfast until noon Thursday.
When we strode into the Capitol Hill watering hole, the place was mostly empty, save for a few office drones nursing their late morning coffees. “Our first order!” cooed the grill cook when we placed our order for the fabled foodstuffs.
The meal was good; the generous plate featured fluffy eggs scrambled with bits of savory ham, onion-laced hash browns and a bonus piece of salty, griddle-seared swine.
One suggestion: maybe next time cap the whole thing off with a slice of creamy American (or queso fresco?) to commemorate the cheesiness of Cruz using public access television to snooker little ones into hearing his favorite bedtime book.
The five finalists for this week’s caption contest are ready for your votes.
Using the comments section below, vote for your favorite caption until 5 p.m. EDT Thursday.
Here are this week’s finalists:
I’ve done that … with my shirt off.
Ha! Not what I expected when my spies mentioned the development of a new U.S. Cruz missile.
In Mother Russia we give opposing party much shorter fuse.
President Obama was right … America really is “exceptional.”
At least you’ll go out with a bang.
The cartoon with the winning caption will appear on this blog on Sept. 29 and in the following day’s print edition of Roll Call. The contest winner will receive a signed color print of his or her Capitol Quip cartoon from the cartoonist, R.J. Matson.
Actress Marilu Henner and “Veganist” author Kathy Freston will share their thoughts on healthier eating with the Congressional Vegetarian Staff Association at an intimate luncheon scheduled for Oct. 2.
House staffer Adam Sarvana told HOH the eco-conscious celebs — who were already coming into town to discuss dietary guidelines with the Agriculture Department — agreed to break bread with congressional aides who also favor a meat-free lifestyle.
Henner, best known for her role as Elaine O’Connor-Nardo on the classic sitcom “Taxi” but also for movies such as “L.A. Story,” has of late extolled health makeovers and dispensed advice on how to improve memory. Freston is one of the vegan movement’s rock stars, with New York Times best-selling books on the subject and regular appearances on television shows such as “Ellen” and “The View.”
Those interested in attending the luncheon, which is set to take place at noon on Oct. 2 at Rayburn 2456, must RSVP to Sarvana directly (Adam.Sarvana@mail.house.gov) to claim a seat. He suggested the event would likely be limited to the first 50 respondents. Full story
Aspiring senator Terri Lynn Land may want to see about locking down a new scheduler, lest she find herself staring out into an empty hotel ballroom later this fall.
(CQ Roll Call photo illustration)
An HOH tipster passed along a campaign email Land blasted out to supporters Tuesday night in which the former Michigan secretary of state enthusiastically proclaimed that she’d like to sew up her race lickety-split.
“People know we can win the US Senate race in Michigan this year,” Land assured her followers.
That’d be one helluva of political coup — considering retiring Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., isn’t stepping down until January 2015.