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Take It Outside

Here come those crunchy Left Coasters again with their health kicks. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) has begun circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter urging other House Members to join him in seeking a ban on designated smoking areas in House cafeterias, one of the few places smoking is still allowed in Congressional buildings. [IMGCAP(1)]

Miller’s letter notes that secondhand smoke in the cafeterias “irritates and annoys those in proximity to smokers, and has been linked to serious medical disorders.” He also points

out that “the odor and effects of the smoke are not limited to that area designated for smoking” and that cafeteria workers should not be forced to inhale secondhand smoke at work.

Miller is asking that all smoking areas in House cafeterias be abolished and suggests that since all of the House cafeterias are located close to outdoor exits, smokers should hightail it outside “where they will not affect the meals and the health of others.”

Miller plans to send his letter to the House Office Building Commission, comprised of Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), but the GOP leaders on the panel don’t seem inclined to send smokers outside.

Hastert’s communications director, Pete Jeffries, told HOH that the commission is already looking into the matter. “The ultimate goal is to have designated, well-ventilated smoking spaces on the House side,” said Jeffries on his last day of work before joining the public relations firm Hill & Knowlton.

According to Jeffries and a spokesman for House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), the Rayburn cafeteria is the only House cafeteria that still allows smoking.

Bill Frist: Tweedy’s Doc? Alt-rock band Wilco lead man Jeff Tweedy has some folks thinking that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) might be his personal physician.

At a recent 9:30 Club performance, Tweedy instructed the audience to scream at key moments during the band’s song “Kingpin.” He told everybody that if they don’t scream once a day, they’ll get cancer. “Bill Frist told me that,” Tweedy said.

But the heart surgeon’s spokesman, Bob Stevenson, isn’t so sure about that (and proved hipper than he might like you to believe). Stevenson said while Tweedy’s claim that a scream a day keeps the cancer away is an “interesting hypothesis,” the medical basis is — to quote one of Tweedy’s new hit songs — “less than you think.”

And no. The Majority Leader is not Tweedy’s doctor.

Lunch With Arnold. Nothing like a transcontinental megafundraiser to jump-start a gubernatorial re-election bid for the country’s most famous governor.

Several Republican lobbyists are hosting a top-dollar fundraiser next week for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election campaign at the St. Regis in downtown Washington, D.C. The March 8 luncheon and “business roundtable discussion” asks for a minimum donation of $5,000. That gets you one seat at the luncheon — but sorry, no photo.

For a photo with the Governator, you must pony up $11,150. You’ll get your picture taken with him, as well as two seats at the luncheon. Still, you won’t be playing in the big leagues. That’s for guests who donate $22,300 each, the maximum allowable contribution under California law from individuals, their spouses and adult children.

The top donors will get four seats at the luncheon, a photo op with Schwarzenegger for two people and a seat at the governor’s table at the business roundtable discussion following the luncheon.

GOP lobbyist Ron Kaufman, one of the hosts of the fundraiser, acknowledges that $22,300 is a ton of money, especially for a nonfederal campaign. “A lot of governors come to town and don’t raise $22,300 for the whole fundraiser,” Kaufman told HOH. “But it’s California … and it’s Arnold, you know. He truly is larger than life.”

Kaufman, a senior managing principal with Dutko Worldwide, said the fundraiser has nothing to do with a potential (and currently still unconstitutional) presidential bid by Schwarzenegger, whom he calls “a terrific friend.” Kaufman said he thinks it is structurally impossible to amend the Constitution before 2008 in order to allow Schwarzenegger, a naturalized U.S. citizen, on the ballot.

“It ain’t gonna happen,” Kaufman said. While Schwarzenegger didn’t go that far, he did tell ABC’s George Stephanopoulos last weekend that he is “uninterested in the White House.”

Flags Down, Bottoms Up. For all those snobs who think NASCAR is just for rednecks, perhaps they’ll be enticed by the words “open bar.”

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association is inviting Members of Congress, redneck and blue blood alike, and their staff to a reception tonight to meet NASCAR driver Ward Burton, driver of the Chevy NetZero car and winner of the Daytona 500 in 2002. The AAIA also promises photos with Burton and Ray Evernham, one of NASCAR’s top team owners.

The reception starts at 6 p.m. in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building and features light hors d’oeuvres and an open bar.

Whiz Kid to the Rescue. Even if some GOP Members appear to be bailing out on President Bush, at least he can rely on a tiny, towheaded prodigy to tout his Social Security plan.

Whiz kid and late-night TV regular Noah McCullough, 9, became a spokesman Monday for the conservative group Progress for America to advocate for Social Security reform.

McCullough, who campaigned for Bush last year, is a presidential history buff who often talks of becoming president himself. In joining the Social Security debate Monday, he said, “In fact, I’d like to officially announce my candidacy for president of the United States in 2032. I want to address this now so that I can prove I’m a problem solver.”

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