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Foot-Maybe-In-Mouth Syndrome

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) has absolutely no recollection of telling a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines that if she lost her job as a result of outsourcing, she could just stay home and be a mom.

“I never ever said anything like that,” Burns told HOH on Wednesday.

The Great Falls Tribune reported on the alleged flight attendant incident this week, quoting the flight attendant in question as saying of Burns, “He’s still living in the ’50s.” [IMGCAP(1)]

Of course, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was quick to circulate the news story, while citing a litany of other infamous Burns gaffes. They included: calling Arabs “ragheads”; asking a woman with a nose ring what “tribe” she was from; and discussing the challenges of living with so many black folks in Washington, D.C.

Burns brushed aside those incidents as being ancient history “way back in the early ’90s. This is just bizarre. … Good grief,” he exclaimed.

Burns, who is up for re-election next year (hence the DSCC’s nice tipsheet), said he is sympathetic to flight attendants who are worried about their jobs being outsourced. And he insisted he doesn’t recall suggesting to a flight attendant that she stay home with her children.

“I got a working daughter, I got a working daughter-in-law. And I married a working girl,” he told HOH. Plus, he said, come by and see his office sometime: There are more women working there than men.

All Over This Land. There were more hammers on the House floor Thursday than you could shake a stick at.

In a show of solidarity with the one and only Hammer, many GOP Members donned little gold hammer lapel pins and began hammering away at each other on the House floor. Fine, the last part didn’t actually happen, but they did wear their pins to the floor for votes to show some love for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas).

Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) is responsible for hammermania. He bought more than 100 of the lapel pins and handed them out. “Tom DeLay is an outstanding man and a great Republican leader,” he told HOH. “By wearing this pin we wish to demonstrate our unified support of Mr. DeLay and the high esteem in which we hold him.”

The Hammer apparently loved the gesture. “I’m sure they will result in a reservoir of good luck for Mr. DeLay, but we won’t need luck since the facts and the laws are on Mr. DeLay’s side,” DeLay’s spokesman, Kevin Madden, said. “Also, I did hear that some airhead Democrats are wondering what miniature hardware store they were purchased from.”

Peas in a Pod. Sure, we’ve heard that Senators from opposite sides of the aisle can be friends. But Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)? In a sign that we may all be living in the Twilight Zone, political polar opposites Inhofe and Boxer revealed Thursday that they are, in fact, pals.

It happened after the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which Inhofe chairs, shot down the chairman’s own bill. Boxer was one of the folks who helped kill the bill, but that didn’t stop Inhofe from showing the love to his little buddy.

Speaking to reporters outside the committee room, Inhofe trashed panel Democrats for helping to defeat his refinery bill. Boxer was standing nearby listening, not flinching as Inhofe accused her party of staging a “politically driven” attack on his bill so they can keep the gas price issue alive for next year’s election.

“I’m sure Sen. Boxer agrees with that,” Inhofe said as he turned to give her a sock in the arm.

“I’ll take that as a love tap,” Boxer replied. (Eyewitnesses said it was definitely more of a cowboy punch.)

Then, almost on cue, Inhofe and Boxer both assured the assembled reporters they really do get along. No, really. They do. Seriously.

“Yes, they really are buddies,” Boxer spokesman David Sandretti told HOH. He said while they don’t see eye to eye on many social issues, they enjoy working together on things such as the transportation bill.

It’s more likely that Inhofe and Boxer are just work buddies. Sandretti couldn’t comment on whether they really “hang out” a lot, or go on double dates with their spouses, or even have lunch in the Senator’s dining room.

Specter’s High Standards. With everything from hotly controversial Supreme Court nominations and stalled asbestos legislation to his own personal battle with cancer confronting him, one would think that Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter’s plate is full enough. Right? Well, he doesn’t think so.

The Pennsylvania Republican became so frustrated on the Senate floor Thursday that he threatened to challenge Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) for his job as GOP Leader.

“I say in jest that I am going to run for Majority Leader on a platform to have a four-day workweek, from Monday noon until Friday noon,” Specter said. “That would double the workweek of the Senate.”

Specter said the second plank of his platform would be to hold votes to the 15 minutes allotted, instead of these marathon open-ended votes that have become customary.

But even Specter acknowledged that his faux leadership bid was a long shot.

“I notice the two Senators from Georgia are amused. Anyone would be amused,” Specter sighed. “I would have only one vote, my own. I would maybe have two or three if I didn’t run on that kind of platform.”

The threat was all part of a Specter diatribe against colleagues who were not showing up on the floor to debate the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill, another of Specter’s myriad responsibilities. (He’s chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the bill.)

Emily Pierce contributed to this report.

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