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Trading Spaces

Four Republican Congressional aides have really been out of the loop this week. Two sets of twentysomething roommates qualified as the all-staff cast on TLC’s hit show “Trading Spaces” and they’ve been doing just that over the past day and a half.

Roommates Jenny Davis, a scheduler for Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah),

[IMGCAP(1)] and Allison Howell, staff assistant for Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), are trading spaces with roommates Amelia Blackwood, a receptionist for Shelby and Shea Snider, a scheduler for Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.).

It seems everyone in Rogers’ office, including the Congressman, has been beside themselves with excitement over the past few days, frantically trying to call Shea out of curiosity to get scoop on the shoot. They didn’t realize that Shea and other gals have been incommunicado — literally without electricity for the entire shoot.

“This time, we’re adding a little extra challenge,” says Don Halcolm, a spokesman for the show. “On this shoot, there’s no power.”

One Rogers’ aide was bewildered when he finally did reach Shea on her cell phone late Tuesday and she whispered, “I’m busy sewing. I can’t talk.”

“Now you know why,” says Halcolm, who was laughing when he told HOH that that staffers are doing “a lot of hand-stitching, hand-sawing and everything. I’m sure they’re getting worked out pretty well.”

Rogers was so anxious to know what was going on that he and his wife went to peek for themselves — not realizing Shea and Amelia had already traded spaces.

“My wife and I just couldn’t stand it any more, so we left the White House picnic and drove by her house. My wife went up to snoop around and see if she could see anything. But Shea was at the other apartment already,” Rogers told HOH.

“My wife is a huge ‘Trading Spaces’ fan,” Rogers says. “She watches it religiously.”

As if living with a Congressman isn’t reality enough!

Following the concept of the show, the two sets of staffers get 48 hours, $1,000 and help from a professional designer and a carpenter to transform one room in their neighbor’s house. The dwellers of each apartment have no say over decorations.

We’ll have to see how saucy these aides are. TLC’s Halcolm says there have “definitely been cases where the end results were hated by the original home owners.”

When HOH’s own private detective went snooping on Tuesday, Jenny and Allison were over at Amelia’s and Shea’s apartment on A Street Northeast, standing outside with art supplies all around them wearing green smocks. For some reason, they were tracing each other’s silhouettes on three white canvases. It was part of what “Trading Spaces” designer Hindi Santo Tomas called “a Leopard Lounge” scene.

The Leopard Lounge brought its own brand of comic relief.

“Oh, that’s a shoulder! I thought it was a boob,” HOH’s P.I. overheard during the shoot.

The Trading Spaces episode will air sometime in late July or early August.

Stay tuned: Others on Capitol Hill have also applied to “Trading Spaces.”

Sister Reps. Loretta and Linda Sanchez, both Democrats from California, say they were “approached”by TLC’s “Trading Spaces.” Both Sanchezes, who are 10 years apart and live in very different types of apartments on Capitol Hill, applied online — as did the four GOP staffers who were chosen for this episode — but the Congresswomen haven’t heard back from the show yet.

Reagan Flag for Sale. Looks like some enterprising Congressional staffers are out to make a killing off the late President Ronald Reagan’s memorial service in the Capitol.

Flags that were flown over the Capitol building as the 40th president lay in state in the Rotunda are going for hundreds of dollars — even creeping into the thousands — on eBay.

At press time, one bidder offered $660 for one of the flags. “This flag comes with a certificate issued by the Flag Office of the Capitol verifying that the flag was flown June 10, 2004, even as the crowds were paying their last respects to ‘Dutch’ Reagan,” the online description reads.

“As a bonus, you will also receive one of the cards given to each person as they leave the Capitol Rotunda,” the pitch continues. “You may have seen these cards being handed out while watching the televised tribute.”

Other Reagan memorabilia available on eBay includes a jelly bean jar that Reagan is said to have flown with on Air Force One, photographs, and a polyurethane pumpkin with Reagan’s picture on it.

Isn’t Enron Dead Yet? The Texas State Society’s rockin’ Black Tie & Boots inaugural ball, just about the toughest ticket in town during President Bush’s 2001 inaugural festivities, was in danger this week of getting a new nickname: Black Tie & Handcuffs.

Some members of the Texas State Society were surprised when they received the latest edition of the “Lone Star Link,” the society’s newsletter. Right there in black and white was the name Enron Corp., listed as one of the top sponsors of the Black Tie & Boots ball, to be held on Jan. 19, 2005, should President Bush be re-elected this November.

“Having Enron associated with anything in this town is a black eye,” one member of the Texas State Society told HOH on the condition of anonymity, for fear he’d have to turn in his spurs. “It’s certainly not good publicity for the Texas State Society.”

Given that Enron, one of the first companies to rock Wall Street in a wave of corporate scandals, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 amid investigations into hidden debt, inflated profits and flimsy accounting, it’s a wonder they can sponsor much of anything these days, much less a celebration thrown by Texans, who proudly claim the title of world’s best party-throwers.

The short answer is: Enron won’t be sponsoring anything.

Texas State Society officials say they left Enron on the newsletter by mistake. “We had a boilerplate listing of them all. We use a template every time” to list sponsors, says Bill Shute, chair of the 2005 Black Tie & Boots ball.

Shute says the last time the Texas State Society approached Enron to sponsor something, it was a real flop.

In October 2001, Enron sent a $500 check to the group to sponsor the society’s annual golf tournament. But the check bounced.

At least those high-society Texans have a sense of humor about it. “We’re thinking about auctioning the check off on eBay if we ever get hard for cash,” Shute says.

Democratic Caucus Cackle. House Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) doesn’t appreciate a whole lot of chatting during the weekly Caucus meetings — especially from aides on the Kerry campaign.

Aides to presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), including Congressional liaison Broderick Johnson, regularly attend the Caucus briefings. But apparently they weren’t using their best “inside” voices during Wednesday morning’s session — unless they got busted for somebody else’s babbling.

Menendez, a wee bit testily, declared, “I love having the people from the Kerry campaign here, but only if they don’t interrupt my Caucus,” according to one staffer who was in the room.

Everyone booed, the aide said. But Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), already at the microphone to give her presentation, charmed the crowd to quell the outrage. “He says that to me all the time,” she said.

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