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Salazar Goes Nuclear on Dobson

The feud between Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and evangelical Christian leader James Dobson reached a boiling point this week.

Salazar, in a telephone interview with KKTV in Colorado Springs, Colo., went ballistic on Dobson’s group, Focus on the Family, which has relentlessly targeted Salazar with ads, protests and phone calls in recent weeks for “breaking his promise” to support all of President Bush’s judicial nominees.

During the tame part of the interview, Salazar said, “Jim Dobson is not our president and he’s not our Senator.” He said groups such as Focus on the Family have “tried to hijack the American government.”

The untamed part came when Salazar said of Focus on the Family, “From my point of view they are the anti-Christ of the world.”

Uh-oh. That didn’t sit so well with conservatives, not least those who live in Colorado Springs, the home of Focus on the Family. They bombarded HOH with e-mails linking to the KKTV interview.

Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said, “It hasn’t taken Sen. Salazar long to learn the ways of Washington from Senate Democrats. First he flip-flops on his campaign promise by deciding to obstruct judicial nominees, and now he joins [Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid [D-Nev.], [Democratic National Committee Chairman] Howard Dean and [Sen.] Robert Byrd [D-W.Va.] by spewing angry venom.”

Salazar said in a statement that he regretted using the term “anti-Christ” to refer to Dobson’s group.

“I meant to say this approach was un-Christian, meaning self-serving and selfish,” Salazar said. But after being attacked by Dobson “all across Colorado, having my faith questioned, and having my wife’s business picketed as part of these attacks,” Salazar said he lost it.

Tussle in Judiciary Committee. It wasn’t exactly Capitol Hill’s version of the Thrilla in Manila, especially since no one actually threw punches. Still, it was a mighty testy spat between Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Had it been planned, posters outside the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing room surely would have touted the showdown between “Snarlin’” Arlen Specter and Dick “Perturbin’” Durbin. Alas, as the tussle was unplanned, tickets were free for anyone who attended the committee’s asbestos hearing on Tuesday.

The fight broke out when Durbin complained that the hearing didn’t have enough victims testifying about their life-threatening illnesses caused by exposure to asbestos. Instead, Durbin said, “It is a hearing about money.” He then went on at length — beyond his allotted time, in fact — decrying the lack of compensation for asbestos victims in the committee bill.

Specter, the committee chairman, said he was surprised to hear Durbin complain when the Illinois Democrat could have invited up to three victims to testify.

“You chose instead to call Mr. Mark Peterson from the American Trial Lawyers Association, Dr. Philip Landrigan from the American Trial Lawyers Association and Professor Eric Green, also on my sheet marked ATLA,” Specter said. (Nice point, though the group is actually called the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.)

Durbin shot back that he wanted “expert” witnesses and that “we” should be spending more time on the bill.

Specter told Durbin, “When you say ‘we’ should be spending more time on this bill, don’t include me.” The room broke out in laughter. Specter added, “We had about 40 sessions on this bill. I didn’t see you attend one.”

Durbin protested, saying he has “spent more time at the table than any other member” of the committee, except for Specter and Judiciary’s ranking member, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). He told Specter to “look at the record” before making charges.

The sniping continued back and forth until, finally, Leahy tried to break it up. But Durbin wanted one last shot, accusing Specter of excluding him and others from meetings on the asbestos bill. “Well that simply is not true,” Specter yelled back. “Well, Mr. Chairman, I am sorry but it is true,” Durbin said.

It was a big boy version of the fight we’ve all had: Is not! Is too! Is not! Is too! No! Yes! You! No, you!

Finally, the ailing Specter, who has lost his hair due to chemotherapy treatments, shut Durbin down with this: “Excuse me, excuse me, Sen. Durbin. I am still the Chairman here!”

TKO, and the bell rings.

Santorum’s Greasy Diet. Democratic strategists are criticizing Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) for spending his campaign funds on personal meals (which, HOH must point out, is fairly common).

Reviewing his April quarterly FEC report, Democrats noticed that Santorum dropped a pretty penny at steak and Philly cheesesteak joints around Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

One of the expenditures showed a $390 tab at Geno’s Steaks on the South side of Philly. Hmmm, which big fat-cat GOP donors was Santorum impressing with Geno’s famously mouth-watering cheesesteaks? Shockingly, they’re not Republicans. They’re Democrats. And New England liberals to boot.

Yes, Santorum spent nearly $400 buying Philly cheesesteaks for the staff of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). It was payoff for a Super Bowl bet, which Santorum lost when the Patriots beat the Eagles.

“Sen. Santorum wanted to make sure that Sen. Kennedy’s staff was well fed with some good ol’ fashioned cheesesteaks from the City of Brotherly Love,” Santorum spokesman Robert Traynham said, adding with much laughter, “As you know, Boston does not have any good cheesesteak eateries up there.”

Phil Singer, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, couldn’t help notice, though, that Santorum spent campaign money at other restaurants such as Jumpin Jenny’s Steak, Philadelphia King of Pizza, Park Avalon and Charlie Palmer Steak.

“Sen. Santorum might want to take a look at the new food pyramid that just came out,” Singer said. “It looks like his diet could use it.”

Whack-a-Tom. For all you liberals out there wanting to take a stab at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), here’s your chance. Democracy Radio has created www.HammerTheHammer.com, where you use your computer mouse to play whack-a-mole with … well, DeLay’s face.

The animated game allows players to whack DeLay with a gavel each time he peeks out of a window. But watch out! Each time you successfully whack the Majority Leader, he reprimands you.

Hit him once, you hear: “Ow. You don’t have all the facts!” Twice, “Ow. I blame the liberal media!” Again, “Ow. I AM the federal government!” Many other insults erupt with successive whacks.

Todd Webster, an adviser to Democracy Radio, explains the goofy site as “a virtual therapy session for Americans to vent their frustrations with the scandal-plagued Republican Congress.”

DeLay spokesman Dan Allen dismissed the game as ridiculous, saying to liberal DeLay bashers: “One only needs to see this to understand why the American people are voting to keep Republicans in the majority. So please play away as House Republicans keep plugging along, passing our bi-partisan agenda.”

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

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