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Gore on the Floor

Could it be that the global warming Al Gore has been telling us about is taking effect? HOH learned that things got pretty heated behind the scenes of the former veep’s visit to the House floor on Wednesday. [IMGCAP(1)]

One Republican launched an effort to get Gore — who, as a former Congressman, would seem to have the right to traipse around on the hallowed ground of the House chamber — booted from the room. Rep. Lynn

Westmoreland (R-Ga.) noticed Gore mingling on the House floor, where the Tennessee Democrat stopped by after testifying before a House panel, and quickly sprang into action.

House rules give floor privileges to former Members, except those who are lobbyists or an “agent of a foreign principal,” Westmoreland reminded HOH. And, he remembered reading last year that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had enlisted Gore to help spread the message about the dangers of global warming. Might that mean that Gore — like Benedict Arnold before him — was an “agent” of the British government and therefore barred from the floor?

HOH, not having a team of lawyers at her disposal, isn’t saying the proposed grounds for getting Gore tossed were legit. But Westmoreland’s bid to oust Gore from the chamber was thwarted anyhow, since Gore was there and gone before the matter could be solved.

Gore entered the chamber during a vote, and Westmoreland had to wait until it was over to make even the parliamentary inquiry to make sure he had recalled the rules correctly. By then, Gore was history.

Westmoreland insisted to HOH his concern was born out of concern for the sanctity of the rules — and OK, maybe to accuse Democrats of hypocrisy. “We have rules that Democrats made and a lot of hoopla about how ethical we’re going to be,” he told HOH. “It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.”

“Give me a break,” responded a Democratic aide. “This just shows how ridiculous the Republicans have become. Al Gore is former vice president, Senator and most importantly in this case, a former Member of the House.”

And don’t forget “Academy Award-winner.” That should count for something.

Salad Daze. Members of Congress and their staffers deal with life-and-death issues every day (think war, health care, the economy, etc.) with generally professional demeanors. Most remain cool and collected under even the toughest — and most consequential — circumstances.

But if you want to see some raw outrage among Capitol Hill’s best and brightest, just try messing with Taco Salad Day. The Wednesday tradition of taco salads in the House-side Capitol basement cafeteria is one of the true treasures of Congressional life.

It usually works like this: Customers queue up to order plastic containers stuffed with made-to-order salads. The ever-patient ladies behind the counter custom make the dish as the patron looks on, answering questions about how they’d like their salad prepared. Chicken, please, yeah sure, some black beans, and just a teeeensy bit of sour cream … cheese, OK, sure, what the heck … a little more, thanks.

But on Wednesday, the eager taco-salad-seekers were greeted with an unwelcome surprise. They were handed small slips of paper and stubby pencils and were instructed to circle the toppings they desired. No more chatting with Doris, everyone’s favorite cafeteria lady, no more last-minute waffling on the jalapeños-or-no decision.

What was this, they wondered, some impersonal deli?

Let’s just say the masses were not pleased. People complained, acted confused, couldn’t fill out the forms and generally rebelled, taco-loving informants told HOH. The line backed up. “It was chaos,” according to one indignant House staffer. “Bureaucracy at its worst.”

A staffer at the office of the House Chief Administrative Officer, which oversees the cafeterias, wasn’t available for comment.

Here’s a warning to the powers that be: Are you trying to start a riot? If so, HOH humbly suggests ending the carving-board special.

Oh No, He Didn’t. Sen. Orrin Hatch is a clean-living guy. He’s a Mormon, he doesn’t drink or smoke, and he’s unfailingly genteel. So HOH — and a few others — were plenty shocked to hear that the Utah Republican had fired off an expletive during a Tuesday-night speech. Hatch actually dropped the s-word, according to guests at Research!America’s annual advocacy awards dinner at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium.

While the word in question isn’t on par with, say, the f-bomb, and while HOH is herself known to sprinkle conversations with similar phraseology, the naughty word certainly made an impression coming from Hatch — and as part of a joke he told featuring Mormons, no less.

Hatch’s joke was about J. Golden Kimball, the storied Mormon leader, who was, according to legend, given to swearing. Kimball, according to the story Hatch recounted, told an errant congregation that he had a copy of the Lord’s “s–t list” and that they were all on it. Hatch went on to joke that surely none of the audience was on said list because of the good work that they did.

The crowd, which included Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Mike Wallace and Sam Donaldson, “was howling,” says one attendee.

A Hatch spokesman said the Senator isn’t usually prone to profanity, except when telling Kimball stories. “Mormons love telling jokes about him, because it gives them an excuse to swear,” he laughed.

Kiss the Ring. It’s nice to be in the majority. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) must have thought so when none other than Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) held a door open for him in the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, boasting that he was “the most expensive doorman you ever had.”

Young, who back when Republicans were in control was definitely used to being a kiss-up-ee, not a kiss-up-er, was making a big (and comical) show of fawning over Conyers as they headed to the building escalators, an HOH operative says. Then, during their ride down the escalator, Young made it very clear he was ready to brown-nose the majority and he had Conyers in a half hug. According to our spy, Conyers seemed to enjoy it all.

Reality Stars. No, chances are, you are not having one of those moments where the lines between real life and network TV blur (yeah, I know it might FEEL like Katie Couric is your best gal pal, but c’mon). You really might have spotted White House Press Secretary-turned-Chief of Staff C.J. Craig — we mean, Allison Janney, the actress who played that character in the late NBC show “The West Wing” — in the Capitol this morning.

Janney and Mary McCormack, who played Deputy National Security Adviser Kate Harper, are on the Hill to have lunch with Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and staff of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Now, put down the remote and slowly back away.

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

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