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Mary Quite Contrary

Nearly 18 months after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi, HOH thought it likely everything that could be said about the tragedy already had been said.

Alas, HOH underestimated Pelican State Sen. Mary Landrieu (D), who had some highly original things to say Monday morning at a field hearing in New Orleans convened by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.[IMGCAP(1)]

“I often think we would have been better off if the terrorists had blown up our levees. Maybe we’d have gotten more attention,” Landrieu said, according to a report from the New Orleans station WWL-TV.

The problem, Landrieu continued, is that Louisiana gets a bad rap in Washington, D.C., especially compared to its neighbor to the east.

“Mississippi is actually the most corrupt state in the union, but you never hear that, because there’s some political undertones about having Mississippi look so good and having Louisiana look not so good at the national level,” Landrieu said.

So, beginning from the top, does Landrieu really wish her home state had been attacked by terrorists? Not really, explained her communications director, Adam Sharp.

“She was just reflecting on the priorities of the [Bush] administration,” Sharp said. “Look at the State of the Union — 5,600 words and not one mention of Hurricane Katrina or Rita or the recovery. You are left to wonder if [a terrorist attack] is what it takes to get on the radar screen.”

As for that whole corruption thing, Landrieu makes no apologies for that one either. In fact, Sharp sent HOH a handy dandy report showing that Mississippi is indeed the most corrupt state in all the land.

The report — written in 2004 by the Corrupt Crime Reporter and based on public data — says Louisiana “is not the most corrupt state in the country, as its reputation might indicate. It comes in third.”

Mississippi is a solid No. 1 on that list, while sleeper pick North Dakota slid in at the No. 2 slot.

In any case, Sharp said, Landrieu “was not denigrating Mississippi to make her point. We know that the actions of a few dishonest officials should not be representative of the entire state.”

Not the Easiest Job. She’s dealt with more than her fair share of negative press over the last several months, and now Melanie Roussell is leaving her post as communications director and senior policy adviser to embattled Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).

In an e-mail Monday, Roussell wrote that she is leaving Jefferson — who is under federal investigation for allegedly soliciting bribes — to take the post of press secretary at the House Judiciary Committee.

“And like a bird leaving the nest, the time has come for me to move on to new and exciting ventures — taking with me the strength of character, motivation, and expertise that I learned here on the Jefferson staff,” Roussell said.

Today is her last day with Jefferson’s office. Perhaps things will be a little quieter at the new gig.

Someone’s Been Sitting in My Chair, Part II. HOH enjoys stories about chairs. Recently, he told you about the time House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member John Mica (R-Fla.) stormed out of a panel meeting and took his GOP colleagues with him because there was not a properly positioned chair for him.

Now comes word of some more disgruntled House Republicans, this time of the press secretary variety.

House GOP flacks get together to compare notes every Monday at 1 p.m. While there had been some issues in the opening days of the 110th Congress with making sure they had a room in which to meet, those problems were supposedly settled and the Republican spinners should have a standing reservation in the Cannon Caucus Room.

And yet, on Monday the press secretaries showed up to find that a) the room was double-booked (though not occupied), and b) the chairs were all stacked in the back of the room rather than arrayed out like they were supposed to be, meaning the staffers had to move the chairs themselves.

To Republicans, the latest chapter of Chairgate was yet another example of the Democrats’ inability to competently manage the House. “All they have to do is keep the trains running and they can’t even do that,” complained a GOP aide.

But according to a Democratic leadership aide, the whole affair was attributable to a computer error. The room reservation system is electronic, and apparently a group related to the Smithsonian Institution had applied to use the Cannon Caucus Room for the whole day and the computer granted the reservation without recognizing that the Republicans had a standing hold on the room at 1 p.m.

The Democratic aide expressed relief that, despite the electronic mix-up, the Republicans, who “showed their perseverance and ability to adapt to hard times, were still able to have the meeting.”

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