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Frank Regrets Jordan Firing

Who would have ever guessed that liberal Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) would become a hero of conservative bloggers everywhere? No one — until the Eason Jordan flap.

Frank, more often villified than celebrated in right-leaning blogging circles, has been hailed recently for his role in challenging the seeming implication by CNN’s top news executive that the U.S. military has deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq.

Jordan was fired late Friday, and conservative sites such as, National Review online, Michelle Malkin’s Web

log — even the blog by right-wing rocker Ted Nugent — have credited Frank with Jordan’s ouster.[IMGCAP(1)]

“Thanks to Barney Frank, world leaders assembled [at the World Economic Forum] in Davos learned that there was no substance to such claims,” wrote Rony Abovitz of the National Review. “Good job, Barney Frank.”

So, all’s well that ends well? Not exactly. In an interview with HOH, Frank said he regrets Jordan’s firing.

Frank noted that Jordan, at Frank’s urging, clarified his controversial remarks in Davos, Switzerland, soon after making them. “I think he spoke too loosely, but he took it back within a few minutes of having said it,” Frank said, adding, “I never thought he should have resigned over this.”

Frank said Jordan sent an e-mail to the Congressman the very next day clarifying that he did not mean to imply that U.S. forces acted deliberately to kill journalists. “I understand it’s an emotional situation when you know people who get killed,” Frank said. “But he did correct it.”

The Congressman added that if everyone “who spoke unwisely and then corrected himself was fired, we would have a lot more unemployment. I guess maybe we should extend him permission to revise and extend, or in this case revise and delete.”

Moving On. The press shop of Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has shrunk further. Two weeks after Press Secretary John Feehery left to go to the Motion Picture Association of America, Pete Jeffries, the Speaker’s communications director, announced Monday he is departing for the communications firm Hill and Knowlton.

Jeffries, who has worked on Capitol Hill for 14 years and for the last eight with Hastert, will serve as vice president for public policy in Hill and Knowlton’s Washington office. That means Jeffries will be the firm’s chief Republican lobbyist, as well as dabbling in media relations. He’ll also be the firm’s resident radio and TV pundit, since, of course, there is a dire shortage of conservative pundits at the moment.

Hastert called Jeffries a “valued counselor, strategist and loyal friend” and said he would “miss his wit and candid advice in the Speaker’s office and around the leadership table.”

Jeffries begins his new job Tuesday March 1.

Man, Not Bunny. It was shocking to see CBS producer Penny Britell walk up behind Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) at a party recently and make bunny ears behind his head.

Britell, a senior producer at CBS’ “The Early Show,” is a smoky-throated blonde whose social calendar is packed with A-list parties and who has the smile and impeccable manners of a debutante. Not the kind of gal one would expect to be disrespectful to a Member of Congress, dear heavens.

But there’s a first for everything, as HOH witnessed at the boozy dance party hosted jointly by Congressional Quarterly and the Creative Coalition last week following the Washington Press Club Foundation’s Congressional dinner.

While HOH chatted with Kucinich about the new Congress, rabbit fingers appeared behind his head. Unbeknownst to the former presidential candidate, Britell was standing right behind him, making funny faces and fingering the air over his head.

That’s when the moment got, shall we say, embarrassing.

When Kucinich noticed that HOH appeared distracted, he flipped around — shocking Britell, who turned beet red. As it turned out, she had mistaken Kucinich’s back for that of a print reporter she knows. “Oh my God, Congressman. Please forgive me. How rude,” she said.

Kucinich took it in stride. “She probably thought that I was Jude Law, and it’s an easy mistake to make,” he joked.

Britell said it would be “too easy” to plead a case of mistaken identity. “The truth is, back where I come from, it’s traditional to greet former presidential candidates by using their heads as a stage to re-enact the tale of ‘Little Bunny Foo-Foo.’ Call me a slave to etiquette.”

At least she didn’t scoop Kucinich up and bop him on the head.

President Clinton Redux? New York magazine reports this week that the key political question surrounding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) isn’t “whether Hillary will run” for president but rather “who’ll have the nerve to wrestle the nomination away from her?”

The magazine quotes Democratic strategist Harold Ickes as saying the Senator’s recent speech on abortion was a “positioning speech.” Positioning for what, he did not say.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) was quoted as saying he is “seriously” contemplating a run for the White House in 2008. As for Clinton, Biden told the magazine, “She is, you know, the elephant in the living room. She’s the big deal.”

Further firing speculation about the Senator’s potential ’08 run, the New York Daily News reported recently that the Senator is about to tap a “pair of proven veterans from her husband’s West Wing press operation. Glover Park Group partner Lorrie McHugh-Wytkind will do long-term media strategy, and Sarah Gegenheimer is top choice for communications director.”

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