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Don’t Think of an Elephant

Vice President Cheney isn’t not on the phone records of the alleged D.C. Madam, who is accused of running a high-price call-girl ring in Washington, the accused madam’s lawyer said on Tuesday.

But then again, the veep isn’t on the list, he said — not necessarily. [IMGCAP(1)]

What’s that? Montgomery Blair Sibley, lawyer to alleged madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey, tossed out the age-old “can neither confirm nor deny” teaser line while appearing with his client at Nathan’s in Georgetown for one of the restaurant’s “Q&A Café” chatting sessions. But clearly, the headline-hyping Sibley was eager to fan the flames of the bizarre Cheney escort-service rumor, which has popped up in some far corners of the blogosphere.

“We are investigating some numbers in the McLean area … and if that turns something up, he might be called as a witness,” Sibley said, referring to the Virginia neighborhood that the vice president once called home.

Palfrey maintains that she did not keep records of the clients of her escort service, only phone numbers. The services provided by her squadron of ladies, she says, were of the legal, “fantasy” variety.

And in an effort to find witnesses for her defense, Palfrey turned over portions of her phone records to ABC News, who she hoped would use the phone numbers to identify high-ranking former clients who could help her case. ABC, though, only named two administration officials as showing up on her phone list.

Palfrey and Sibley expressed disappointment, too, over the shortage of boldfaced names in ABC’s reporting on the phone records. Although he gave props to ABC News reporter Brian Ross, Sibley indicated that they were expecting a few more.

While Sibley did a lot of the talking, Palfrey revealed a few details of her own, including that she’s got a book project in the works (oh, HOH totally did not see that coming) and that she’s a “conservative Democrat” who’s “into politics.”

So Busted. Rep. Tim Ryan is planning to do some serious penance this weekend. The Ohio Democrat was supposed to be on a strict diet last week, when he ate on a budget of $21, the amount the average food-stamp recipient gets in his state.

But an eagle-eyed HOH tattletale, er, tipster reported seeing the Congressman apparently enjoying a cup of coffee at Ebenezer’s Coffee House in Ryan’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Sunday afternoon. And the wayward Congressman didn’t even try to hide his identity, even though he’s been very public about the weeklong food-stamp challenge, wearing one of his own campaign T-shirts as he sipped the taboo joe, our spy said.

A Ryan spokesman fessed up that that his boss strayed a bit. “There have been some lapses,” he said, including a contraband pork chop the Congressman consumed, although the spokesman didn’t know about his boss’s apparent coffee shop run.

Maybe the Congressman wouldn’t have slipped if he hadn’t had his precious stash of peanut butter and jelly confiscated from his carry-on bag by Transportation Security Administration agents. On a flight home from New Hampshire, where he gave a commencement speech at his alma mater, Franklin Pierce Law Center, the TSA goons swiped the Congressman’s jars of PB&J, since they violated rules regarding what liquids you can carry on flights.

For his sins, Ryan plans to work this weekend at a food bank as a way of doing “penance,” the spokesman said.

Flying the Friendly Skies. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has a GOP travel buddy in Rep. David Hobson. Proving that not all Republicans from Ohio are sworn enemies of Pelosi, Hobson is making his third trip on a Congressional delegation trip overseas spearheaded by the Speaker, he confirmed on Tuesday.

Hobson is one of the Members traveling with Pelosi to Greenland and Europe over the Memorial Day recess, where global warming is said to be on the globe-trotters’ agenda.

“I know, I’m three for three,” the amiable 70-year-old lawmaker said of the frequent-flier miles he’s racking up with Dems. Hobson also was the lone Republican to accompany both a Pelosi-led CODEL to Iraq in January and a highly publicized and criticized trip to Syria in April.

Hobson said Pelosi called him on a recent Sunday afternoon and asked him to join the trip. “It’s the Speaker of the House — she asks, I say ‘OK,’” Hobson explained on Tuesday, noting that friendliness aside, he has strong reservations on Democrats’ global warming agenda.

The friendship between Hobson and Pelosi isn’t exactly unlikely — Hobson, in his ninth term, and Pelosi, in her 11th, go way back, having forged a working relationship while they both sat on the famously chummy Appropriations Committee. They also share the dubious distinction of serving on the House ethics committee under then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.).

Hobson, while he often takes a partisan stance, is not one to make things personal, and he and Pelosi seem to genuinely like and respect each other — a rare thing in the often-partisan House.

Hobson also is the ranking member on the Appropriations subcommittee on Energy and water development, and since the trip is focused on global warming issues, it makes sense for him to go.

And Hobson revealed that in preparing for the trip, Pelosi apparently doesn’t reserve her motherly concern for her Democratic flock. “She told me to bring heavy clothes,” he said.

Susan Davis contributed to this report.

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