Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) caused quite a stir Tuesday by appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show and entertaining the idea of having the shock jock play a prominent role at the next House hearing on the Federal Communications Commission’s budget.
The self-proclaimed “King of All Media” kept badgering Serrano, who is
ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee that controls the FCC’s budget, into letting the radio host sit behind the Congressman on the dais. This would allow Stern to feed the lawmaker tough questions to fire at FCC Chairman Michael Powell during his appearance later this month.
The bad boy even tried to sweeten the pot by promising to bring sidekick Robin Quivers to sit next to Serrano: “She will stick her hand somewhere that will make you smile.”
After that crack, Serrano joked that Stern had just damaged his re-election chances. But when pressed on the question of getting Stern into the hearing, Serrano finally promised, “We’ll see how we can make it happen.”
Serrano phoned in to HOH later in the day to say that he had gotten “dozens of e-mails from around the country” from former supporters of President Bush who are promising to vote for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) instead because of the government crackdown on Stern.
“They see this right-wing assault on freedom of speech,” charged Serrano. “This guy who until now has been considered just a shock jock, may be at the center of a real freedom of speech debate in this country. If you don’t like what you hear, turn the dial. Just turn the dial.”
Serrano stressed that since Stern is not a Hill staffer, he will not let the host sit behind the dais. “But as a citizen, he has a right to come to the hearing” and sit in the audience, said the lawmaker. “If he tells me he wants to come, I will afford him all the courtesies he deserves.”
The possibility of Stern coming to confront Powell is said to be causing heartburn on the GOP side of the aisle, and the radio host is not about to close off any options. Stern’s agent, Don Buchwald, told HOH that his client isn’t ready to reveal whether he’s serious about showing up.
“Anything he has to say, he has 25 hours a week on the air to say it,” Buchwald said.
Clinton-Carlson Merger? CNN’s Tucker Carlson caused a stir after he was quoted discussing his “guilty fantasy bedmate” in the new issue of Elle magazine.
“Hillary. Every time I see her I think I could, you know, help … She seems tense,” said Carlson, who elsewhere in the piece mentioned the joys of spanking a woman.
There’s already a bit of history between Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Carlson, who had to devour a chocolate shoe after vowing to eat his footwear if the lawmaker’s book sold 1 million copies.
“First it was his shoe, now it’s his foot,” Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines told HOH on Tuesday.
Peace Offering. If House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can make nice with the Los Angeles Dodgers, maybe she can bury the hatchet with the GOP leadership as well.
Despite her deep allegiance to the San Francisco Giants, which are bitter rivals of the Dodgers dating back to the teams’ days in New York City together, Pelosi was spotted holding court with the new owner of the L.A. team in the Capitol.
The Minority Leader handed over a Giants cap to co-owners Frank and Jamie McCourt, who were in town. The couple presented Pelosi an autographed Dodgers’ bat.
While Pelosi is not planning to swing the Rawlings bat in the direction of any Republicans, spokesman Brendan Daly suggested that she’s not necessarily ready to give in to the GOP either.
“As a die-hard Giants fan, Pelosi found a good use for the bat — it’s rumored she’ll have it carved into the Speaker’s gavel,” he joked.
Spin City in Moscow. Back in 1996, Dick Dresner was one of three American political consultants who rushed to Russia to secretly help then-President Boris Yeltsin, whose approval ratings were stuck in the single digits, surge to a stunning re-election victory.
The mission was so hush-hush that Dresner, along with fellow consultants George Gorton and Joe Shumate, couldn’t even speak directly to Yeltsin. They had to gain the trust of the president’s daughter, Tatiana, and pass their polling data and advice through her.
Their story of saving the bacon of Yeltsin — which was eventually revealed by Time magazine — will be the subject of the Showtime movie “Spinning Boris” that premieres Sunday night. The flick stars Jeff Goldbum as Gorton, Anthony Lapaglia as Dresner, and Liev Schreiber as Shumate.
“All we got was a quarter of a million dollars — which is absurd,” Dresner told HOH of the fee split between three consultants for preserving the fledgling democracy in Russia. “We went on to make a lot more in Romania. But you don’t often have a chance to make history.”
Ah, the joys of spinning for piles of money overseas. But Gorton returned to America to help elect a foreign-born governor of California by serving as a consultant for the winning campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger (R).
And Dresner is now advising ex-Rep. John Cooksey (R-La.) on his comeback bid against freshman Rep. Rodney Alexander (D), who flirted with switching parties last week. “I think he got spooked when Cooksey decided to run,” noted the consultant.
And how would he compare the cloak-and-dagger negotiations over party switching to the shadowy world of advising a Russian president? “It’s not a whole lot different,” Dresner said with a laugh.
Mr. Smith Comes to Washington. Erik Smith, former spokesman for the presidential campaign of Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), is the proud new father of a rather big little boy.
Kate Smith gave birth Monday to Henry Daniel Smith, a redheaded lad who tipped the scales at a very healthy 9 pounds (and is 21 inches long). He joins big brother Dolan Smith.
The proud papa is now serving as executive director of the Media Fund, one of those Democratic 527 organizations trying to have a big influence on the upcoming elections. So does this mean that Republican committee chairmen will eventually be sending subpoenas to little Henry?
“You know you’re in a new world when your first call is to the pediatrician, the second to the grandparents and the third to a lawyer,” Smith joked via BlackBerry message from Sibley Memorial Hospital.
Return to Sender. Just a couple of weeks after alleging that President Bush was AWOL during the Vietnam War, Terry McAuliffe was a bit surprised to receive a fundraising pitch from the Bush-Cheney re-election committee at his home in Virginia this past weekend.
The chairman of the Democratic National Committee is just the latest member of the loyal opposition to receive a letter with a photo of the president and first lady Laura Bush.
“Thank you for your early commitment and dedication as a Charter Member of the campaign in Virginia,” said the pitch that was also recently sent to the Virginia residence of Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.).
“This is campaign fiction, just like the president saying his economic policies are creating jobs,” DNC spokesman Tony Welch said of the mailing.
“If the DNC wants to read good fiction, they should check out ‘Kerry vs. Kerry’ on GOP.com,” fired back RNC spokeswoman Christine Iverson. “They’ll see that the most unbelievable stories are those that John Kerry is telling about his own voting record.”
And if you want still more propaganda, check out Pelosi’s new “Budget Watch” section of HouseDemocrats.gov, which goes to great lengths to pick apart Bush’s spending priorities.
In short, the silly season is just beginning for both sides. And you can bet that some of the early sparring will be chronicled at Fleishman-Hillard’s Thursday breakfast recap of the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries at the Mayflower Hotel.
The panel will include representatives of the Kerry and Gephardt campaigns — as well as Ron Klain from the team of retired Gen. Wesley Clark, Craig Smith from the camp of Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Jon Haber from the squad of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D).