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Diagnose This!

The Senate’s top doctor, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), has many new and unwanted patients. Over the past several days, they’ve been bombarding Frist’s office with e-mails, describing their ailments, some of them pretty gnarly, and begging for a diagnosis.

[IMGCAP(1)] In response to Frist’s floor speech on Terri Schiavo after he reviewed video footage of the brain-damaged woman, Drive Democracy posted a smart-alecky letter on its Web site saying, “Are you sick? Injured? Worried about a medical problem, but can’t afford a physician? Well, worry no longer! Because Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, MD, doesn’t even need to see you to make a diagnosis and prescribe care.”

The liberal activist group encouraged folks to “take a digital picture or video of your medical problem — tennis elbow, acne, runny nose, hemorrhoids, or whatever ails you” and e-mail it to Frist. Drive Democracy’s founder, Texas liberal Glenn Smith, was kind enough to provide e-mail addresses for several of Frist’s staffers.

One Drive Democracy member named Michael took a picture of his bunion-covered big toe on his right foot. (HOH almost fainted from the odor just looking at the picture.) Michael sent his picture in an e-mail to Dean Rosen, Frist’s top health aide, asking him to pass it along to the doctor.

“It is a pic of my right foot. I understand that he can actually diagnose what is wrong with people without actually seeing them in person as he has done in the Terry Schaivo [sic] case,” Michael’s e-mail read.

Another Drive Democracy supporter named Eric submitted a picture of his hairy, chapped and probably fungus-infected left big toe. “As you can see, it has turned a strange shade of brown and gray,” he wrote. “I haven’t kicked any right-wing quacks in the rectum lately, so I am at a loss to figure out what is wrong.” Others sent more serious e-mails from their soap boxes, teeing off on the U.S. health care system.

Smith, an author who founded Texans for Truth, the group that hounded President Bush over his military record, said he thought his campaign generated “hundreds of e-mails” to Frist’s office. He heard nothing back from the Majority Leader’s staff.

Bob Stevenson, Frist’s communications director, dismissed the spammers as a bunch of lefty goofballs who can’t count on the big-name doctor in their own party.

“What a shame, even the liberal Democratic activists have lost faith in Dr. [Howard] Dean’s capabilities,” he cracked of the new Democratic National Committee chairman.

False Advertising. Aides to Sen. John Kerry are mad as hornets at the House Resources Committee for misconstruing a statement from the Massachusetts Democrat. The committee, on its Web site, quoted Kerry as saying, “We have 24 to 48 hours to save the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge … Please make an emergency donation [to my presidential campaign] right now. https://contribute.johnkerry.com/.”

The quote is accurate. And Kerry did direct people to give money through his non-governmental political site. But he did not ask people to donate to his presidential campaign, as was stated in brackets. (Even Kerry isn’t in such denial that he thinks the 2004 campaign isn’t over. And even Kerry isn’t publicly asking for money for a 2008 run — yet.)

What the Senator really asked for was an emergency donation to fund a “save the Arctic refuge” online campaign.

Brian Kennedy, the GOP communications director for Resources Committee, said the Kerry people were making too fine a point.

“The point we’re trying to make is that John Kerry was using the ANWR issue for partisan, political and fundraising goals,” he said. “It’s absurd. He might as well sell his vote.”

But Kerry’s spokesman, David Wade, said the Resources Committee flat-out lied on its Web site. “Are government employees really selectively changing the facts to mislead people all across America? It’s one thing to watch Jon Stewart’s fake newscasts, it’s another to use taxpayer dollars to imitate him.”

The Importance of Being Ernest. Latent novelists will surely be attracted by this unique job advertisement circulating on Capitol Hill, especially if they’ve got experience handling loose cannons:

“Press Secretary: Liberal California Democrat seeks Press Secretary responsible for implementing a comprehensive communications strategy: write press releases, floor statements and op-eds; respond to press inquiries; produce newsletters, email communications, and manage web site. Must be able to herd LA’s toward this comprehensive message program and edit pedantic beauracratize [sic] into Hemingway-like prose not to mention make a sow’s ear (the boss) into a silk purse!”

That is a mighty tall order, considering the sow’s ear in question is Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), the loosest of loose cannons. Still, the ad is drawing some interest. Debbie Curtis, Stark’s chief of staff, said her favorite cover letter so far has came from “someone in the media” who said he yearned for a job that would allow him to write like Hemingway. “Besides, I’ve been planning to change my name to Ernest anyway,” the applicant wrote.

Dodd Ends Filibuster. Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and his wife, Jackie Clegg, have finally named their youngest child, who turns 5 today. Just kidding. The baby is exactly 28 days old today. Her name is Christina Murphy Dodd, baby sister to Grace Dodd, who is 3 and a half.

Dodd’s hometown newspaper, The Hartford Courant, broke the news of the baby’s name on Friday by announcing, “OK, the filibustering is over.” The paper went on to say, “Sure hope Dodd doesn’t take this long making a decision in the Senate.”

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.

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