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Seersucker Envy

Nothing like a seersucker suit to forge love between the parties, and even the sexes.

It started as a joke last year when a group of Republican Senators, led by Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who has the Southern credentials to get away with wearing a seersucker suit, all wore their seersuckers to work on the same Thursday, with saddle shoes and bow ties, of course. [IMGCAP(1)]

This year, Seersucker Thursday will be held this week.

It was supposed to be held last week, Lott said, but “the ladies of the Senate requested a delay.” He implied that the women in the chamber may be planning a surprise, although he didn’t know what it was. He mentioned Sens. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) as likely conspirators.

Indeed, the Senate Seersuckers will come with ruffles this year.

“These have been hard days in the Senate. We are dealing with a lot of big and very difficult issues,” said Feinstein, who is leading the Lady Seersucker effort. “I thought it was time to lighten up a bit and inject some humor. The men of the Senate who wear these suits take great pride in them, and I thought we could surprise, or even upstage them. But it seems someone let the cat out of the bag.”

Smack That Vote Down. Just about every corporation out there has some sort of “get out the vote” campaign to recruit and motivate young people to go to the polls. But World Wrestling Entertainment has got it going on, demanding attention from both major parties and interest groups across the political and demographic spectrum — from the Brooks Brothers-and-martini set at the Republican National Committee to the panty-hose-and-pocketbook scene at the League of Women Voters.

The WWE’s “Smack Down Your Vote” now has President Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) hopping to enter the squared circle. The WWE is slated to release responses today from both major candidates to their national voter issues paper, a lengthy survey that identifies top concerns and priorities of voters between the ages of 18 and 30 (who make up the bulk of the WWE’s typical viewership).

Bush’s campaign promised it would submit responses by Monday. Kerry submitted his last week, providing five pages’ worth of promises to straighten out the economy, reduce health care costs, make college more affordable and — HOH loved this one — “take on the special interest influence that breeds cynicism among young people.”

Gary Davis, the executive director of WWE’s “Smack Down Your Vote” campaign, says the fact that Kerry took such care in answering the questions and returning the voter survey so promptly says a lot about the power of the WWE in the 2004 election.

And it’s no wonder: WWE has tens of millions of viewers each week.

WWE wrestler Chris Nowinksi, the 6-foot-5-inch, 270-pound, Harvard-educated nerd boy whom everyone loves to hate in the wrestling entertainment world, is the star of the Smack Down Your Vote effort.

Nowinksi says “most people are shocked” to see the other side of him when he’s out in the field doing Smack Down the Vote work.

“People say 18- to 30-year-olds are unmotivated. I think it’s just a lack of information.” But it helps, he says, that he has a Harvard degree. “People respect that.”

Nowinksi says he bonded with the ladies at the League of Women Voters recently. “A lot of them were wrestling fans in their youth,” he said, perhaps somewhat delusional.

The Swearing Mormon. What is it with the potty mouth on Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)? He just can’t help himself when it comes to the “dumb-ass” antics of Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, particularly those of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

During a business meeting of the committee on Thursday, the Judiciary chairman was jostling with Democrats who wanted to issue subpoenas to compel Attorney General John Ashcroft to turn over memoranda on the Justice Department’s legal opinions on torture and prisoners of war. Schumer called for a quick vote and approval of the subpoenas. Ever quicker, Hatch cut him off and explained — with a straight face, mind you — that he would make a “compelling argument that that’s a dumb-ass thing to do.”

Next scene: Complete outburst of laughter in otherwise tense committee room.

Then smiling, Hatch said he had to use “certain language that only some of you understand,” rousing even more laughter.

This was Round Two in Hatch’s “dumb-ass” counterpunches with Democrats.

In late April 2003, during a very partisan fight at a judicial nomination hearing, Hatch tried to cut off Schumer’s questioning of the nominee. At first Hatch said, “Any Senator is entitled to ask any stupid question they want.” But after a few minutes he just couldn’t take it anymore and he snapped: “I do know dumb-ass questions when I see dumb-ass questions.”

At least twice Hatch referred to Schumer’s “dumb-ass questions.” The chairman’s staff would like to point out, however, that Hatch doesn’t think Schumer is a dumb ass. Only his questions are dumb ass.

Hastert vs. Pelosi Update. So maybe bipartisan tears shed over President Ronald Reagan’s funeral actually stirred some bipartisanship as well.

Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), whose signatures are rarely seen on the same document, sent a letter on Friday to “the Capitol Hill Community” thanking everyone for their efforts in helping to make the Capitol safe and visitors feel welcome while paying their respects to the late president.

“To all those who helped, we thank you for your significant energy and dedicated teamwork,” said the letter, signed, with newfound love, by J. Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House, and Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader.

Paul Kane contributed to this report.

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