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Daschle Endorses Gephardt?

While Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has thus far remained neutral in the presidential race, Linda Daschle confirmed that she has decided to back Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.).

The Senator’s wife, a prominent lobbyist at Baker Donelson, has contributed $1,000 to Gephardt’s White House bid. While some people on K Street sprinkle money to various candidates and keep their options open, Linda Daschle told HOH that she’s endorsing Gephardt — even though she has friendships with many of the candidates.

“I wish them all the very best,” she said. “I just happen to think Dick Gephardt has what it takes to win and succeed in the White House.”

She wrote a check for $500 to Gephardt in March and then doled out another $500 in June, according to Federal Election Commission records.

“Number one, there’s an existing friendship that goes back well over a decade,” Daschle said. “Two, because of that friendship I feel like I really know Congressman Gephardt and his wife, Jane, and I think they would be great in the White House.”

She downplayed any suggestion that she may convince her husband to endorse Gephardt as well. The Senator backed Gephardt’s first presidential campaign in 1988 but has said he may not issue an endorsement to anyone this time because he is now serving as leader.

And it’s worth noting that at least one member of the Daschle family is rooting for the presidential campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. FEC records show that Jill Daschle, the Senator’s daughter-in-law, recently contributed $500 to Dean for America.

When asked whether there will be a “healthy debate” in the family about the race, Linda Daschle said, “I’m sure there will be. We just like to be good Democrats, as you can tell.”

George Who? The sightings of George Clooney around town have gotten pretty trite by now, so hats off to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Richard Myers for being unfazed by all of the buzz around HBO’s “K Street” program.

While fans once again swarmed Clooney as he filmed scenes for the next episode at a Saudi Embassy reception on Tuesday night, Myers — who’s understandably busy these days — said he didn’t even notice that Clooney was at the party.

“I don’t watch much TV,” Myers told HOH when asked whether he had checked out the HBO show. “Maybe one of these days.”

Clooney dropped by the embassy with stars James Carville and Mary Matalin in tow to film some scenes during the Saudi government’s National Day reception.

There was a hint in last week’s episode that one of the show’s lobbyists may be secretly working for the Saudi government, and sure enough Clooney tried to shake loose from a crowd of admirers at the bash by blurting, “I gotta get to work.”

But the producer, who was playing cameraman with a handheld, faced constant interruptions from glad-handers as he tried to film some B-roll of Carville and Matalin hobnobbing at the party.

Carville was mum about the plot line. “The Saudis were nice enough to let us come to their party,” he drawled with a wide grin.

Before heading out the door, Matalin would only say, “The Saudis figure into it.”

Clooney, meanwhile, was hit up by John McLaughlin, who wants the actor to appear on his news program, “One on One.”

“He said he liked my show,” said McLaughlin, who wants to interview Clooney about the role of the humanities in the United States.

“The amount of funding the government provides to the arts in the U.S. is infinitesimal, especially in relation to other countries like France, Great Britain, Germany or Italy,” McLaughlin groused between bites of hummus, adding a bit of heresy for a conservative: “I like France — a lot.”

Tauzin’s Magic Red Carpet. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) insists he’s not gearing up to become the new president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

But then comes word that Tauzin is serving as master of ceremonies for tonight’s glitzy Party of the Decade, which will enable guests to “mingle with heads of state and Hollywood idols … for real; we mean it; you’ll see.”

The bash is being thrown at trendy Ortanique by Tauzin’s friend Gloria Dittus, who is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the start of her public relations firm. There will even be a special appearance by Beats Workin, the rock band that features Tony Snow of Fox News.

Don’t they usually have plenty of Hollywood types — as well as guest appearances by musical groups — at the annual unveiling of the Oscars?

“Billy is not, contrary to the never-ending rumor, going to use this opportunity to try out some new material for hosting the Academy Awards,” cracked Tauzin spokesman Ken Johnson.

“Absolutely nothing has changed,” he added. “He’s still got a job he loves. And it’s Chackbay, Louisiana, 70301 — not Beverly Hills 90210.”

And Tauzin’s get-up could be interesting. “I’m trying to get Billy to show up wearing a tuxedo and white shrimp boots, dragging a crab trap,” Johnson said. “So far, though, he’s not real big on the tuxedo idea.”

Heye Heye, Goodbye. For House staffer Doug Heye — who’s leaving Capitol Hill today to become the new press secretary at the Small Business Administration — Dec. 7, 2000, is a day that will live in infamy.

That was the day HOH reported on Heye’s decision to yuk it up a bit during the contested presidential election in Florida. And while it was a good-natured item, Heye has still not quite lived it down.

Heye was part of the band of Republican staffers who headed south and put their lives on hold for weeks to help the GOP during the recount. In a controversial move, the staffers pressured Miami-Dade County officials to stop the hand counting of ballots.

The staffers spent a lonely Thanksgiving at a Fort Lauderdale hotel, so someone had Las Vegas lounge lizard Wayne Newton swing by to perform his signature “Danke Schoen” for the troops. But Newton was swarmed by screaming Republican women, so he gave up the microphone.

Heye rushed up on stage and belted out the rest of the tune. “I said to myself, ‘When am I ever going to have this chance again?’” he told HOH at the time.

But he was rattled by an anonymous colleague, who “wasn’t extremely impressed” by Heye’s voice and noted that the scene made the whole experience much more surreal. (Heye still wonders who leaked word of the incident, but the secret is safe.)

“It’s still unconfirmed whether or not singing lessons are in his contract with SBA,” joked Brian Walsh, spokesman for the House Administration Committee. “But seriously, it’s a great move for Doug, and we’re all happy for him.”

Jonathan Grella, spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), pretended to be unfamiliar with Heye.

“Is he the guy from the Capitol Lounge who aggressively tries to buy Courvoisier for staff assistants on wing night?” Grella joked. “Yeah, Dave’s a great dude.”

Bree Hocking contributed to this report.

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