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Berry Big Problem

Just a few days after Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-N.J.) nearly lost his official Member lapel pin at a Georgetown bar, Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) misplaced his BlackBerry wireless device at a Capitol Hill saloon.

The wireless e-mail device was last seen atop the bar at Lounge 201, the swank new hangout where Moore was sipping glasses of chardonnay into the wee hours of April 8.

“I lost it somewhere,” Moore told HOH the following day. “We called over

[to Lounge 201] and they said they didn’t have it.”

Democratic aides had been sniping about security concerns raised by the fact that Ferguson’s lapel pin — which allows the bearer to skip metal detectors on the Hill — wound up in the hands of a young female student at Georgetown University. The woman says Ferguson handed it over; the Congressman insists it was snatched away.

Now Republican aides are slinging arrows at Moore for misplacing his BlackBerry during a late night of drinking. The devices were handed out by the Capitol Police after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks so that Members would have a means of receiving secure information in the event of another catastrophe.

In particular, GOP aides present that night raised questions about whether the 57-year-old Moore was distracted by the attention he was showering on a particular young woman.

“I was not rubbing anybody’s back,” Moore, the married father of seven children, stressed to HOH in response to Republican whispers. “But I do have a habit, if I’m talking to someone, of my putting my hand on their shoulder.”

Moore added that while he arrived at the bar alone, he spoke to many different people as he worked the room. “I was never alone with anyone,” he stressed.

As for the BlackBerry, Moore has given up on searching for it and has lined up a new one. His staff says the old one has been shut down so that prying eyes should no longer be able to download his private e-mail.

Noting that Moore plays guitar in some of his campaign commercials, one GOP aide offered some new lyrics for the Congressman, “I’m from Kansas City, Kansas City is where I’m from. They’ve got a lot of crazy little women there, but first I’m heading to Lounge 201.”

Run, Jesse, Run. Senior lawmakers like Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) are apparently pining for the days when former Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) graced the Capitol’s corridors.

After double knee-replacement surgery, Helms used to buzz through the hallways with a special motor scooter. And now Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) is utilizing the same type of vehicle because of a difficult case of bursitis.

Hollings rushed up to Domenici last week and patted him on the back. “Hello, Jesse,” he cracked.

Hear No Evil. While President Bush was eager to blast Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) during the racial controversy that erupted in December, word about Rep. Barbara Cubin’s (R-Wyo.) controversial remarks has not quite made it to the Oval Office.

During last week’s debate over gun liability legislation, Cubin raised more than a few eyebrows by saying, “One amendment today said we could not sell guns to anybody under drug treatment. So does that mean if you go into a black community, you cannot sell a gun to any black person, or does that mean because my …”

Cubin was interrupted by Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), who was outraged by the comment. Cubin later apologized and said it was unfortunate that she had been interrupted, though it’s hard to see what she possibly could have added to that stunner to set it straight.

At White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer’s Friday press briefing, the former Congressional aide showed that he can still tap dance with the best of them.

“Why hasn’t the White House said anything about this in the wake of the Trent Lott situation?” asked one reporter.

“I think people there have addressed it,” said Fleischer. “And I think she made her second thoughts clear.”

The reporter responded: “But people are wanting to hear from the White House about that statement, as she equated African-Americans to drug …”

“Well, I can just tell you this,” said Fleischer. “I don’t know if the president personally heard what she said. He obviously heard other statements that people made.”

That certainly clears it all up.

Walk on the Wild Side. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) has found an interesting way to get her staff personally involved in the legislative effort to combat childhood obesity.

Granger and her aides have started wearing pedometers, the tiny devices one can clip to a belt in order to keep track of how many steps a person takes each day.

Granger’s office even had a contest one recent week to see who could log the most steps. Doctors say that 10,000 paces a day makes for a good fitness goal.

Krissy Rodriguez, a staff assistant, won with a whopping average of 15,270 steps a day. “The rest of the staff thinks she cheats because she gives the [constituent] tours,” joked Granger.

The top four prizes went to female aides, with the women logging an average of about 1,500 more steps per day than the men. “They said they should get double prizes because they all wear high heels,” Granger said.

The Congresswoman herself was not allowed to compete because she was traveling so much that week, making for an unlevel playing field.

“I wear one, but I’m not nearly as good as my staff,” said Granger, who’s being modest — she averages a solid 12,000 steps a day.

She said that pedometers are a good way to encourage kids to exercise because adding up the steps becomes a game. “For a lot of children, if you say go walk a mile, it’s hard to mark off,” she noted.

Kucinich’s Peace of the Action. Fed up with overflow coverage of the war and barely any coverage of his presidential campaign — er, peace efforts — Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is fighting back.

The lawmaker launched issue No. 1 of “The Peace Report,” which promises to be a “periodic eNewsletter” in the form of a Blog where Kucinich writes up diary entries about his daily activities. It’s being distributed by Democrats.com, a left-wing Web site.

Addressed to his “fellow advocate[s] for peace,” Kucinich wrote, “Over the last several weeks, many of you have written and spoken to me about the lack of meaningful information concerning our movement’s response to the invasion of Iraq. I believe this problem is serious and endemic, and extends to the inadequate reporting of peace-related activities that occurs daily in Washington, D.C.”

Kucinich added, “In this periodic report from our nation’s capital, I will describe a new kind of campaign that wages peace, not war. It is a campaign being waged every day, at the highest levels of your Federal government, for the cause of peace.”

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Photos of the week ending April 19, 2024