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Borderline Brawl



Correction Appended

HOH last week brought you the tale of CNN host Lou Dobbs referring to a Member of Congress, on-air, as “partner.” Well, it gets worse. A testy, televised exchange between Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) and Headline News host Glenn Beck last week has Cuellar vowing to never return to the show. “Not in my lifetime,” Cuellar promised, according to a spokeswoman. [IMGCAP(1)]

Beck meted out a big dressing-down to Cuellar for an answer the Congressman gave about resources for local law enforcement on the border between U.S. and Mexico. “Shame on you for that response,” Beck chided Cuellar on the Friday edition of Beck’s show. “That was the most belittling response I have ever heard. Shame on you.” Beck then cut off the Congressman when he tried to expand his comments, telling him “you’ve had your piece” and trying to steer discussion to Americans allegedly being held hostage by drug lords.

Just before that, Cuellar had gotten a bit heated with the other guest on the show, a sheriff from Laredo, Texas. The sheriff claimed that “no resources” had been allocated to help combat law-enforcement problems on the border. Cuellar took issue with that statement, telling him, “you have got more money than you’ve ever gotten in the past.”

“We will work with the local law enforcement … but your job is to be a county sheriff, not a U.S. Congressman, which is a big difference,” Cuellar said. “My job is to look at the big picture. Your job is to look at the smaller picture, and I will do my job as long as you do your job.”

Cuellar spokeswoman Mindy Casso said her boss wasn’t told that the issue would come up or that the sheriff would also be on the segment until he arrived at the CNN studio. “Which would have been fine,” she added. “But all of the sudden, it turns really ugly.”

Casso says the claims about local law enforcement getting no resources was “100 percent not factual.” Cuellar also was surprised by Beck’s “comments that seemed racist,” Casso said, like when he referred to the U.S.’s neighbor to the south as “freaking Mexico.”

For his part, Beck won’t be losing any sleep over Cuellar not returning to his show. Through a spokeswoman, he told HOH: “It’s a sad day in America when a U.S. Congressman is more concerned about tough questions from a constituent than the 60 missing American citizens allegedly kidnapped in his area by Mexican drug lords. We at the Glenn Beck Program will all mourn the loss of this Congressional dynamo from future shows.”

Red Sox Reverence. For some believers, the object of a pilgrimage might be Jerusalem, or the oracle of Zeus … or the Rayburn House Office Building’s Energy and Commerce hearing room. Members of the Massachusetts delegation and other Red Sox fans made the closer-to-home journey last night to be in the presence of the trophy awarded to the winners of the World Series.

The trophy last appeared on the Hill in 2004 when local Red Sox Nation fans packed a similar reception to catch an up-close glimpse of the coveted prize. “I’m thrilled that we didn’t have to wait another 86 years — we didn’t even have to wait 86 months — for this trophy to arrive back in Boston,” said Rep. Ed Markey (D), who as chairman of the Massachusetts delegation helped organize the event.

Jimmy From the Block? Staffers passing by Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar’s (D) office might have been intrigued to hear about a certain “JLo” doing some serious legislative work. Could it be that Roberto Cavalli-wearing, baby-bump-boasting songstress Jennifer Lopez is taking a sudden interest in transportation and infrastructure issues? Unfortunately for the US Weekly readers among us (and you know who you are), Oberstar staffers were merely referring to their boss.

Oberstar, whose full name is James Louis Oberstar, is often referred to as “JLO” in e-mails, memos, and conversations (pronounced “jay-low”, just like Lopez’s nickname) by aides. However of-the-moment Oberstar’s moniker might be, Communications Director John Schadl wanted to set the record straight that the Democratic Congressman is no slavish fad-follower. He says Oberstar, not JLo, was the trendsetter when it came to using his initials, which he’s done since he took office 17 terms ago. “It was a practice that started long before Jennifer Lopez wrestled her first Anaconda, started Waiting for Tonight and before her first dance with the stars,” quipped Schadl. “Jim hopes the use of his initials has helped Ms. Lopez with her popularity in Northeast Minnesota; they are good initials and have served him well over the years.”

Friends in High Places. Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D) may not be running for higher office this time around, but he was still able to get a shout-out from the Boss on Monday night.

In the middle of Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band’s set at the Verizon Center, Springsteen prefaced the anti-war song “Last to Die” with a dedication: “This one’s for John,” according to an HOH tipster who wasn’t too busy rockin’ out to notice political endorsements.

Springsteen, an outspoken Bush critic, pays tribute in the song to Kerry’s famous quote from the Vietnam-era Congressional hearing, when he asked the panel, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Springsteen’s props didn’t fall on deaf ears. Kerry, who’s been a Springsteen fan since the 1980s and keeps an autographed poster from Springsteen’s Concert for Vietnam Veterans in Los Angeles in 1981 in his Senate hideaway office, got some face time with the rocker before the concert started and was in the audience for Springsteen’s tribute.

“Bruce Springsteen is both a patriot and a poet, and his music and friendship energize and sustain me,” Kerry said. “He’s an inspiration.”

From Paris, With Love. When HOH thinks Paris, she thinks amour and moonlit strolls beneath the Eiffel Tower — not legislative toiling.

Despite Paree’s reputation as a romantic destination, HOH hears that Senate Republican Conference Chief of Staff Ron Bonjean was nevertheless able to convince girlfriend Sara Rose that a trip last weekend to the City of Light was work-related, and that she should accompany him — only to pop the question and reveal that the trip was indeed a romantic getaway. No word on a date for the nuptials, but HOH wishes the couple felicitations.

Alison McSherry and George Cahlink of CongressNow contributed to this report.

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Correction: Nov. 14, 2007
The column incorrectly stated that Glenn Beck hosts a show on CNN. His program appears on Headline News, a CNN network.

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