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Cheney’s Surgery

Maybe Hurricane Katrina is really getting to these people. First it was Karl Rove and his kidney stones. Now, it’s Vice President Cheney and the aneurysm in his leg.

On Friday, HOH broke the story on Roll Call’s Web site that Cheney is scheduled to have elective surgery next weekend to treat an aneurysm in the artery behind his right knee. Now, we have some more details for you.

[IMGCAP(1)] Cheney spokesman Steve Schmidt declined to say where the procedure will be performed. He gave up only that it will happen “next weekend,” that it will be performed with local anesthesia and will involve “a short hospital stay.”

“The vice president will return to work shortly thereafter,” Schmidt said. “More details on the procedure will be made available next week.”

Cheney also canceled a couple of GOP fundraisers, HOH learned. As one source who had just read Roll Call’s online scoop on Friday said, “Now we know why.”

The vice president had been scheduled to appear at a fundraiser benefiting House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) in Houston on Friday (where tickets for a “VVIP” reception were going for $12,600), and at a fundraiser for Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) in St. Louis tonight.

Schmidt said the vice president’s latest health problem was discovered during a routine checkup earlier this year. Presumably, that was last month, when it was reported that doctors found small, dilated parts of the arteries behind his knees, which led to his aneurysm, a condition that occurs in people with clogged arteries.

For a guy with some serious heart problems, could Cheney, 64, be any sturdier? He had quadruple bypass surgery in 1988 and had a defibrillator implanted in his chest three years ago. He’s suffered four heart attacks and still had the lungs to curse out at least one Senator.

As for Rove, the New York Daily News reported Friday that the 54-year-old “Bush’s Brain” had to miss some key Katrina strategy sessions because of his painful kidney stones. The paper said Rove has visited the hospital, “possibly twice, to relieve his agony since Labor Day.

“Reply All” Gone Wild. Seriously, folks, don’t stop your mad impulses to hit “reply all.” For HOH’s sake, anyway.

Jim Matthews, the legislative director for Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), said he has apologized for an offensive reply-all missive last Thursday, that led another Democratic aide to accuse him before the reply-all world of being insensitive and racist.

“This is one more reason to obliterate the ‘reply all’ on your computer,” a beleaguered Matthews told HOH.

The heated e-mail exchange started with an innocent “Dear Colleague” letter circulated far and wide to House offices by Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) and Rob Simmons (R-Conn.), asking colleagues to co-sponsor their “Captive Primate Safety Act, H.R. 1329.”

A few minutes after receiving the letter, Matthews hit the dreaded reply-all button on his keyboard and wrote, “Does this deal with those kids out in Ohio(?) who were being kept in cages?” (He was referring to mentally disabled children in Cleveland whose adoptive parents are under investigation for putting the kids in cages.)

Matthews’ knowledge of current events didn’t impress Stephanie Moore, an aide to Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.), who made no mistake when she sent her reply to all.

“Jim, I don’t know you, but I for one don’t equate disabled, black kids with ‘non-human primates for the pet trade.’ Certainly you don’t think that black are akin to ‘monkeys, great apes (including chimpanzees and orangutans), marmosets, and/or lemurs’?” she wrote, adding, “I had hoped that you would respond to my personal e-mail to you with some acknowledgment of your insensitivity. But since it’s been over two hours since you opened my e-mail, I thought I’d just attach the article below reporting on this horribly, sad story for all on your distribution list who were subjected to your insulting and callous attempt at humor!”

Matthews told HOH that he sent an e-mail to Moore on Thursday afternoon apologizing for his comment and for not responding to her sooner. But he didn’t appreciate her reply-all e-mail, either. “I was taken aback by her not-so-veiled charge of racism,” he said, adding that he thought the story about the children was “horrific” and that “it never even occurred to think about the color of the skin.”

No Coke — Pepsi! Chicago’s legendary Billy Goat Tavern, the inspiration for one of the most famous sketches in the history of “Saturday Night Live,” is coming to Capitol Hill. The new hottest burger-and-beer joint opens at happy hour this afternoon at 500 New Jersey Ave. NW, inside the National Association of Realtors’ shiny glass building.

The Billy Goat has long been a watering hole for Chicago journalists, including the Chicago Tribune’s vodka-swilling, kissing and cursing, cigarette-smoking writer Rick Kogan, who will be attending this evening opening party.

“In the heyday, four newspapers were within stumbling distance of Billy Goat, the newspaper hangout to rival any newspaper hangout in the history of journalism,” Kogan said.

He should know. Kogan is writing a book about the Billy Goat, to be released next April, called, “A Chicago Tavern: A Goat, a Curse, and the American Dream.”

Then-owner Bill Sianis and his billy goat, the story goes, were denied entry to Wrigley Field for a World Series game in 1945. So Sianis put a curse on the Cubs, who have never returned to the World Series. Current owner Sam Sianis will be here tonight.

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