There was quite a scene at the DSW Shoe Warehouse in Pentagon City, Va., when Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) tried to buy two new pairs of running shoes on Sunday.
After Daschle whipped out his credit card, the cashier noticed that the Senator’s signature on the back of the card had worn off. So she asked for a photo ID just to make sure he had not stolen the card.
But Daschle, who’s driven around by a Capitol Police protective detail for security reasons, didn’t have his driver’s license.
“The person behind the counter had no idea who it was,” one customer told HOH. “He said, ‘I have other credit cards.’” But that wasn’t good enough.
“We’ll vouch for you, Senator,” cracked another woman who was in line. But when the very patient Daschle finally mentioned that he did indeed serve in the Senate, the cashier remained unmoved.
The store manager, Gia Patterson, was finally called over to deal with the situation. “It was funny because a lot of people seemed to know who he was — they were all whispering, ‘That’s Senator Daschle,’” Patterson recalled Tuesday. “I felt real silly. It kind of made my day really interesting.”
Eyewitnesses said the scene resembled the Visa commercial in which football stars/identical twin brothers Tiki and Ronde Barber try to convince a shop owner to let them buy some flowers.
Daschle finally offered to have the bodyguards show badges proving that they were protecting a Senator, and that did the trick. “He seemed to be fine with it,” Patterson said of the store policy. “I told him, ‘Be careful out there because if you’re not carrying ID, and you lose your card, someone can get it.’”
Given the confusion about Daschle’s identity, some might say it’s probably good that he decided against that presidential bid. But with the Senator facing a tough re-election back home in South Dakota, spokesman Todd Webster saw a much more positive angle on the anecdote.
“Geez, this never happens to him at Herberger’s in Aberdeen,” Webster told HOH. “He’s just much better known to the folks back in South Dakota than to people in D.C.”
Pelosi’s Pool. Is there gambling going on in the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who’s been beating up on Republicans over various ethics issues lately?
NCAA basketball office pools are generally considered innocuous compared to setting up, say, a floating craps game or a full-fledged casino in the workplace. But the pools still tend to be illegal in many states. So employees at Fortune 500 companies, House offices (of both parties) and, yes, Congressional newspapers try to at least be a little discreet about it.
But Pelosi staffer Jonathan Stivers seems to have thrown caution to the wind by circulating this note (from a nonofficial e-mail account) on Monday morning: “March Madness is here! Attached is the link to our annual office pool. This year CBS Sportsline is offering a free website so we will be able to make selections and track the results live on the website.”
And just in case there’s any doubt about whether money will change hands, the e-mail added helpfully: “Each entry is $5. 1st place will receive 70% of the total, 2nd place 20%, 3rd place 10%.”
Just to make the pool a little easier for everyone to find, the Pelosi aides decided to choose a very obvious domain name that includes “housedemocrats” on the Sportsline site. They went one step further by choosing this password: pelosi.
“As Captain Louis Renault said in the movie ‘Casablanca’: ‘I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here,” joked Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.
Ford Tough. March Madness has also infected Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), who wound up with a fractured left hand when he collided with Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.) during a pickup basketball game last week in the House gym.
“We heard bones pop, and we weren’t sure what it was,” Wamp told The Associated Press, adding that he also has a sore foot. He stressed that there were no hard feelings from the accidental collision that came during the scramble for a loose ball.
But in what could be a preview of the tough fight for a Senate seat in 2006, Wamp vowed that Ford “needs to remember what goes around comes around.”
Veep of Bluegrass. That was Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.) enjoying a quiet dinner with his family on Monday night at Tiffany Tavern.
The joint in Alexandria, Va., is known for hosting live bluegrass music every night. The 21-year-old establishment hosts local bands on the weekends and has open mike nights throughout the rest of the week.
Maybe the possible vice presidential candidate is brushing up on ways to connect with those NASCAR dads?
Bo Knows Jack. Three Irish brothers of Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.) were already planning to fly in from Buffalo on Tuesday to make it in time for Tuesday night’s Fund for Ireland dinner.
But once word spread to the boys that their Congressman brother would be meeting with actress Bo Derek to discuss legislation that would prevent the slaughter of horses, their travel plans magically changed.
“They moved their flight up an hour and a half when they heard Bo was coming,” Quinn told HOH with a laugh. “I receive advice on issues from a lot of people, but when my brothers found out that Bo Derek was working on an issue on the Hill, they were first in line with advice.”
Luck of the Irish. Irish star Moya Brennan, lead singer for the band Clannad, got the nod to perform at the vaunted Speaker’s Luncheon to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the Capitol today.
The VIP audience will include President Bush and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, as well as Irish-American lawmakers like Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and leaders from the political parties of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
This is the sixth luncheon being thrown by Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who’s following a tradition first started by then-Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) for then-President Ronald Reagan.
“This luncheon serves an important diplomatic purpose, as leaders from the United States, Ireland and Northern Ireland break bread together as they discuss the important issues of the day,” said Hastert. “But it is also time to have some fun, and Moya Brennan will be a great addition to this wonderful tradition.”
Gillespie’s Gift of the Gab. It turns out that Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is a poet — and we didn’t even know it.
In honor of St. Patty’s Day, Gillespie on Tuesday penned a limerick that rips into Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic presidential nominee:
“There once was a man from Nantucket
Whose misstatements could fill up a bucket.
Oft the truth he has bent,
Like his ‘Irish descent.’
Of his record he says, ‘I’ll just duck it.’”
Democratic National Committee spokesman Jano Cabrera fired back:
“There once was a Yank from Connecticut,
Who utterly lacked any etiquette.
He claimed Texas blood,
Threw the truth in the mud,
Think his word is his bond? Don’t bet on it.”
Kerrying On. Andy Davis has left his post as spokesman for retiring Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) to become communications director in Kerry’s Senate office.
“I’ll be handling communications as regards his official work in the Senate, his official record, floor debates, and communication with other Hill offices,” Davis revealed in an e-mail to friends on Tuesday.
Hollings has been an active supporter of the presidential candidate, giving his colleague a solid boost in South Carolina early in the nomination battle — though Kerry finished second to Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) there.
Meanwhile, The Harbour Group has added two former journalists to help with public affairs at the lobbying shop: Gayle Kansagor, a former editor with Telecommunications Reports; and David Vance, a former television and radio reporter.
O Canada. Certain politicians have given interns a bad name in recent years, so it’s nice to see that the Canadian Embassy is trying to remind everyone that many of these young folks make an important contribution to the city.
The embassy kicked off the first annual Internpalooza! 2004 last night at the 9:30 Club. Interns from the embassy — as well as the House and Senate — were treated to a rocking performance from the Canadian band Three Days Grace.
“It’s all about networking, Canada-U.S. relations and a little bit of rock ’n’ roll diplomacy,” said embassy spokesman Bernard Etzinger.