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Good Charlotte

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was nowhere to be found at Wednesday’s black-tie Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner. Though the genial Hoyer usually likes a party, he had a good excuse for skipping the canapés and schmoozing: Hoyer was mourning the death of his beloved English springer spaniel, Charlotte. [IMGCAP(1)]

The 15-year-old pooch, who was a regular fixture around the halls of the Capitol and something of a mascot to Hoyer’s office, had to be put to sleep on Wednesday after suffering from age-related health problems, a spokeswoman said.

Hoyer’s devotion to his companion was well-known. The widowed Maryland Democrat took her almost everywhere after his wife died in 1997 of cancer. And the sweet four-legged friend was the punch line of some of his favorite jokes. “I live with a wonderful woman named Charlotte,” he once told a crowd of constituents, before explaining that she was his dog, according to a Washington Post profile this year.

And where many politicians display grip-and-grin photos with presidents and other pooh-bahs in their offices, Hoyer boasted a large framed picture of the two of them.

HOH will resist the temptation to invoke the old saw about a dog being a man’s only friend in Washington. Instead, we’ll just pass along sympathy from Charlotte’s fans around the Hill.

Goodbye, Charlotte.

Show Me. Naked pictures posted on the Internet of an aide to Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R), son of House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R), are proving fodder for a bare-knuckles political spat.

The state Republican Party is blaming Democrats for sharing the pictures — which apparently were stolen from the aide’s computer — with the media. But Democrats contend that they’ve known about the racy pics for a year and a half and have actively discouraged reporters from writing about them. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote last week about the pictures and the political row that ensued.

Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Jared Craighead on Friday told HOH he is calling on Democrats to clean house by finding out who “peddled” the story to the media and firing them or, if it’s an elected official, forcing a resignation. Letters from the governor’s chief of staff went to all 197 legislators’ offices last week describing the situation, and Republicans on Friday put out a scathing press release fingering their political rivals.

But state Democratic Party spokesman Jack Cardetti contended that Democrats weren’t to blame. “This does nothing to further political discourse and has no place in Missouri politics,” he told HOH. “We have actively discouraged the press from reporting on this.”

OK, the political back-and-forth may be interesting, but the pictures, you ask, what about the pictures? Turns out, they’re not as titillating as you’d think for all the fuss.

According to the Post-Dispatch, they were part of efforts by Blunt spokeswoman Jessica Robinson and her husband, Jay Robinson, to chronicle her pregnancy in photos. The photos, snapped in 2003, show “a smiling, still-slim Jessica Robinson standing in front of a wall,” according to the paper. Plus, HOH couldn’t even locate them online. That’s it?

Aren’t we talking about the Show Me State?

You Say Tuskegee, Boehner Says Tustegee. What’s in a name? House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) found out last week, when he botched the name of the famous group of black aviators from World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen.

During a ceremony to honor the vets, in which President Bush and Congressional leaders paid them tribute, Boehner created tension in the crowd as he repeatedly pronounced the group’s name “Tus-TEE-gee,” with the last syllable sounding like “gee” as in “gee whiz.” The correct pronunciation is “Tus-KEE-gee,” with the last syllable using the hard G sound.

The mangling prompted murmurs among the crowd. But when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) finally pronounced it correctly, the crowd clapped and cheered him.

HOH would think that Boehner, whose own name is easily butchered (and to potentially embarrassing effect), would be sensitive to the subtleties of pronunciation.

Rep. Herseth Himseth. And speaking of names, Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-S.D.) is changing hers. As of today, Herseth officially is Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, after a weekend wedding to former Rep. Max Sandlin (D-Texas).

A Clerk of the House letter went out on Friday making the name change official on Capitol Hill. How’s that for a memento to add to the wedding scrapbook?

While there will be changes—to the Congresswoman’s Web site, office door, etc. —Herseth’s name change won’t affect her spot in the House roll call, since, as the Clerk helpfully points out, the name is still alphabetized under “H.”

And maybe now that Herseth (er, Herseth Sandlin, we mean) is taking her hubby’s name, staffers will stop jokingly referring to Sandlin as “Him-seth,” a behind-the-back moniker he picked up when the two began dating in 2003.

Spinning Records. Democrats have been making much out of their desire to get top administration types on the record and under oath talking about the controversial firing of federal prosecutors. But the House Judiciary Committee last week had trouble even getting its own hand-selected group of witnesses on the record to talk about going on the record.

The scene was a Thursday hearing in which Clinton administration officials were slated to talk about how they always came to testify to Congress when asked really nicely, before the Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law. Clinton White House staffers John Podesta and Beth Nolan were on deck. But there was one little problem — there was no official reporter there to type the transcript and therefore no actual “record” of the hearing.

“When it comes to delving into the inner workings of the Clinton administration, we guess Democrats don’t want that on the record,” cracked Beth McGinn, spokeswoman for the panel’s Republicans.

But a Democratic spokeswoman said the hearing simply was delayed until the official reporter arrived.

Once the reporter appeared, all proceeded apace.

On the record, that is.

Nanny Diaries. Fran Drescher, a frequent visitor to Washington, D.C. — the former “Nanny” star is a cancer survivor and activist on gynecological cancer awareness — was seen heading into a meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday. Drescher was in a fitted skirt-and-cardigan ensemble, an HOH spy says. “She looked fit and fabulous,” the spy gushed.

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