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Henry’s Hooters

Rep. Henry Brown (R-S.C.) needed some help on highway projects, and decided to bring about 20 staffers from the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee down to his district to get acquainted with the area and learn about its needs.

The airline used to transport all those staffers down to South Carolina — Hooters Air. Yep, that Hooters. [IMGCAP(1)]

Brown’s office said it was the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and not the South Carolina Republican who made the travel arrangements for the trip, which took place two weeks ago. Besides, Hooters Air is a reputable airline, and its main hub is in Myrtle Beach, said Sharon Axson, Brown’s press secretary.

Hooters is just “trying to be a good corporate citizen,” said Axson, and Myrtle Beach could use some more federal highway money, so it was important to get the staffers into the district, however they got there. “Hooters Air is just like any other airline. It just happens to have a distinctive name. If the connotation is that they’re involved in something unwholesome in flight, it’s just not the case.”

Brad Dean of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce said Hooters Air delayed its flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to make sure that Brown and the staffers made it on time. “In that case, they were willing to alter their schedule and bring them in that night,” said Dean, who noted that only two carriers fly to Myrtle Beach, and Hooters was cheaper, as well as being a direct flight, which sealed the deal.

Hooters, of course, is famous for using buxom women in tight shirts to serve food and drinks in its 330 restaurants. “The Hooters Girls are like the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders or the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models: they’re the All-American girl, and they’re famous,” states the company’s Web site. The company slogan: “Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.” Hooters Air flights include some of the 15,000 Hooters Girls.

While several GOP aides were questioning the public relations aspect of flying Hooters Air, a top staffer for a Republican serving on Transportation and Infrastructure defended it: “It sure is better than flying on United Airlines.”

Rules to Live By. With Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s future at the Pentagon in doubt following allegations of abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Democrats helpfully spent part of last week making sure that everyone had a copy of “Rumsfeld’s Rules.”

This set of “rules, reflections and quotations” was first compiled by Rumsfeld during the early 1970s, and was revised in 2001. Rumsfeld served as a White House chief of staff under then-President Gerald Ford, was a four-term Member of Congress from Illinois, secretary of Defense twice, a diplomat and business leader. Throughout his life, he has tried to build on the experience of his predecessors, combining that with hard-won knowledge gleaned from his own background,

Some quotes from “Rumsfeld’s Rules” that may be particularly apropos in the current political furor he finds himself in: “If you foul up, tell the President and correct it fast. Delay only compounds mistakes”; “The price of being close to the President is delivering bad news. You fail him if you don’t tell him the truth. Others won’t do it”; “It is easier to get into something than to get out of it.”

But with calls from some Democrats and media bigwigs for Rumsfeld to step down, this one may be the most telling: “Be able to resign. It will improve your value to the President and do wonders for your performance.”

In the Clear. Former Senate staffer Christine Niedermeier is no longer considered a suspect in the murder of her sister, Nancy Dunning, according to WRC-TV.

Dunning, the wife of Alexandria Sheriff James Dunning, was shot to death in her home on Dec. 5. The case is still unsolved, and a $100,000 reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of her killer.

WRC reported that Niedermeier “has been eliminated as a suspect in her sister’s death.” Niedermeier herself told the television station that the period since her sister’s death has “been extremely painful for my family and especially for me. It’s had a devastating impact on my personal and professional life.”

Niedermeier and her sister reportedly disagreed over the care of their deceased mother, and she was interviewed by police following Dunning’s murder. Earlier news reports stated that Niedermeier had eyewitnesses and phone records backing up her claim that she was in Connecticut at the time of her sister’s death.

Niedermeier is a former top aide to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.). She left his staff in September 1999 amid her allegations that the Montana Democrat had sexually harassed her, a charge that Baucus vehemently denied. Baucus said Niedermeier was let go because she was abusive to staffers. Niedermeier filed an employment discrimination lawsuit against Baucus, as well as a complaint under the Congressional Accountability Act, but all her grievances were rejected.

On another front, Wanda Baucus is expected in D.C. Superior Court today to face misdemeanor assault charges stemming from an April 21 incident in Northwest Washington. Mrs. Baucus allegedly slapped another woman during a dispute over mulch at Johnson’s Flower and Garden Center in Tenleytown. Mrs. Baucus has denied the allegation.

More Crime Stuff. Former Rep. James Barcia (D-Mich.) was arraigned Friday in federal court on charges that he violated campaign finance law by funneling contributions to another Democratic candidate.

Barcia’s case is linked to the failed candidacy of Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga, who ran unsuccessfully against Rep. Candice Miller (R) last cycle.

Marlinga, who is facing nine felony charges including fraud and conspiracy, is accused of offering prosecutorial leniency to two men accused of rape in exchange for $34,000 in campaign contributions. One of the men was convicted but later won acquittal following an appeal; the other is serving two years in prison on lesser charges.

Barcia, now a state Senator after five terms in the House, reportedly was a conduit for $4,000 in contributions to Marlinga from one of the suspects. Barcia is also charged with making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

Barcia and Marlinga have denied the charges, and neither Barcia nor Marlinga has stepped down from his post at this time.

No, I’m Faster. Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and John Sununu (R-N.H.) can’t seem to agree on who should have the title of “Fastest Senator, Male.”

Both Sununu and Ensign took part in last’s week’s ACLI Capital Challenge, a 3-mile annual charity run that raises money for the D.C. Special Olympics.

Sununu completed the course in a solid time of 19 minutes, 47 seconds. Ensign finished in a respectable 20:41. Case closed. Sununu wins, right?

Hold on, says Ensign. He told Sununu that he ran a 19:46 last year, and that while the New Hampshire Republican’s time was laudable, that he, Ensign, is still the Fastest Senator, Male.

Well, HOH did some checking, and it turns out that Ensign’s time in 2003 was actually 19:51. Sununu’s time this year edged out Ensign’s time from last year by four seconds. This allowed Sununu to crow a little bit.

“It’s not important that I ran a faster time than John Ensign had this year or ever ran. It was important that we were helping raise money for a great cause,” Sununu said.

“Besides, John is a lot older than me and probably had so much trouble remembering his real time from last year.” Ensign is 46, Sununu is 40.

Ensign was attending hearings in the Armed Services Committee on Friday and wasn’t available for comment.

But hold on. Both Sununu and Ensign were crushed by the perennial winner of the Mike Synar Award, which goes to the fastest lawmaker overall — Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) The 55-year-old Gordon was clocked at 18:22. Gordon’s personal best for the challenge was 16:59 back in 1995.

And as far as Senators go, Baucus ran an 18:15 way back in 1981.

Time to start training for next year.

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