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Super Fans, Super Quiet

Ever been so close to victory that you can taste it? Don’t ask a Cleveland fan. The Forest City’s professional teams have a history of making it oh-so-close, before infamously dropping the ball (literally and figuratively). And as the baseball playoffs progress, Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones’ (D) office isn’t about to take any chances with her beloved Cleveland Indians. [IMGCAP(1)]

While most Capitol Hill offices proudly display their home-state teams’ gear, especially during the playoffs, Cleveland native Jones’ office walls stayed bare last night as the Indians took on the Boston Red Sox in the third game of the American League Championship Series. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. Jones is a huge Indians fan, as are her staffers, who almost all have Cleveland connections, says her spokeswoman Nicole Williams. But like many a Cleveland fan, they are just a little superstitious. With the Indians holding the second-longest losing streak for taking top honors in North American major-league sports (behind only the Chicago Cubs), who can blame them?

The office’s current bare-bones superstition came about after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ run in last season’s NBA playoffs was cut short by the San Antonio Spurs. The office had been decorated to the hilt until the Cavs lost. “In the past it’s been a jinx,” Williams says. “We are diehard fans. We hope the Indians go all the way, and then we’ll celebrate.

To Hill With Partisan Attacks. With all the would-be Republican presidential nominees in gleeful Hillary-bashing mode, it seems that no true-red GOP stalwart would miss any chance to insult the New York Democrat and presidential frontrunner. That’s why the new book by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) contains a surprise.

Hutchison, who normally fastidiously toes the party line, had nothing but nice things to say about her colleague from way across the aisle. In “Leading Ladies: American Trailblazers,” Hutchison profiles 63 women in public life, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Clinton’s profile underscores the work she’s done on behalf of children’s and women’s rights, and Hutchison praises Clinton for “earn[ing] her spurs” in her early Senate days by doing her homework and staying humble. She also details issues the two Senators have collaborated on, including permitting single-sex public schools.

Of the 16 women serving in the Senate, Hutchison writes, “we are all friends.” And the gals of the chamber meet for monthly dinners, she divulges. “We commiserate, we laugh a lot, and never discuss issues,” she says. How positively ladylike.

Don’t Have a Cow, Man. House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans were forced to eat their shorts Monday after a gag-filled press release mocking the Democrats’ stance on a controversial children’s health bill caught the ire of trademark experts and Senate Republican staffers.

The committee minority staff’s jokey release, titled “Bipartisanship on SCHIP,” featured characters from “The Simpsons” poking fictional fun over the real debate. Noting that “Actual facts and events may vary, but really, how much?” the release said, “Republican Senate hopeful Montgomery Burns today joined with Mayor Joe Quimby, D-Springfield, to support the Senate’s gazillion dollar SCHIP bill.”

Following the uproar on the blogosphere over whether the committee had trademark permission to use characters from “The Simpsons,” Deputy Republican Staff Director Larry Neal released an apology of sorts, sans characters from the show. Just like Bart in the opening credits, Neal writes on a chalkboard “Mayor Quimby is not a parody of any person or party, and neither is Mr. Burns. Mayor Quimby’s niece is not a 25-year-old Senate staffer named Toodles LaRue who gets SCHIP in three states.”

Giving a shout-out to trademark experts, Neal added that “‘Eat my shorts’ may not constitute valid legal permission to mock liberals with certain cartoon characters whose names I conveniently forget now.” But he saved the best for last, going after — which deemed the released “Dept. of please never try humor again” — reciting three times that he “will not hide Wonkette’s Xanax.”

Comedic release aside, the committee doesn’t seem to be taking the trademark threats too seriously. So far, it has no plans to take the Simpsons parody off its Web site.

Biden Does Hollywood. With his mega-watt smile and camera-ready hair, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) never has been one to shy away from the Sunday morning talk-show circuit. But now he’s gone one step further — taking his political cues from Tinseltown. While the Delaware Democrat has long been against extraordinary rendition — he held a hearing and introduced a bill in July — his press shop’s memo to reporters almost three months later comes at an auspicious time: the week of the release of the Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “Rendition,” about an Egyptian-born chemical engineer who disappears on a flight from South Africa to Washington.

Biden’s release had all the makings of a movie trailer, featuring extra-bold print asking, “How often has the practice Rendition been utilized,” “How Long are they typically held?”” and “What happens to them after the interrogation is over,” followed by — dramatic pause — “We don’t know.”

“I’m shocked and offended you think I’d stoop so low as to capitalize on a movie premier to remind reporters about my boss’s legislation,” Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said with a wink. “By the way, it’s S. 1876 — the National Security with Justice Act — and it prohibits extraordinary rendition, closes CIA black-site prisons and bans torture.”

Friendly Faces. Just because their bosses might be taking pot shots at President Bush doesn’t mean GOP press secretaries gave White House Press Secretary Dana Perino a hard time on Monday. Instead, Perino found a much friendlier audience as she held court before roughly 75 GOP press secretaries at their weekly meeting.

Talking for about a half-hour, Perino, who worked on the Hill as a press secretary for then-Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-Colo.), was thankful to the attentive group, who gave her a round of applause, which she quipped was vastly different from the welcome she gets in the briefing room, according to an attendee.

Perino fielded half a dozen questions touching on how to handle difficult reporters or unfavorable stories — something we suspect she knows a thing or two about.

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