Heard on the Hill: There Once Was a Photo in Nantucket

Posted July 29, 2008 at 6:58pm

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) might like a good time, but not that kind of good time.

[IMGCAP(1)]On Tuesday, gossip Web site TMZ.com had Hill folks buzzing when it posted pictures of Kerry surrounded by what looked to be a sorority party in full swing, complete with young ladies brandishing college-issue red “go” cups and cans of Bud Light.

“Senator John Kerry went on a campaign binge on Saturday night — at a Nantucket house party full of young chicks,” the caption read.

Kerry’s staff quickly shot back, releasing a statement telling their account of the story behind the pics: Kerry was leaving the Straight Wharf Restaurant on Nantucket when a large group on a boat asked him to take a picture with them. “The group came off the boat and onto the dock, took a photo with Sen. Kerry and his friends, and then Sen. Kerry and his two friends immediately walked away,” the statement reads. “End of story.”

If only. By the time TMZ posted Kerry’s statement and removed any mention of a “house party” from the site, Republicans were already making hay out of the seemingly salacious shots. Massachusetts Republicans put out a press release simultaneously calling attention to the photos and jabbing Kerry for spending too much time in Washington.

“If it wasn’t for these photographs, the voters probably wouldn’t have even known that John Kerry was in Massachusetts this year,” state Republican Party Executive Director Rob Willington said.

Mile-High Bicycle Ride. As the top Congressional advocate for bicycle transportation, Rep. Earl Blumenauer usually rides his bike when he needs to get to Capitol Hill, at times through incredible heat, pouring rain, slippery sleet and bitter snow.

And after years of dogged dedication to the pro-bicycle cause, it appears the Oregon Democrat can finally take a victory lap, because the movement has hit the political mainstream.

Reps. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), Tom Petri (R-Wis.) and Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) are expected to join Blumenauer at a press conference today to announce a “bike-partisan” challenge at the upcoming presidential conventions. The Members want convention attendees to use the 1,000 free bikes that will be made available to get around Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul, with the goal of getting convention-goers to log a collective 25,000 miles — which would burn more than 1 million collective calories.

“Even if we can’t agree on a candidate, we can agree that bicycles are a healthy, inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to get around,” said Blumenauer, who often sports a festive bicycle pin on his lapel to show his two-wheeling pride.

Called “Freewheelin,” the bike-sharing program will be run by the nonprofit Bikes Belong and health care provider Humana Inc. Humana’s Nate Kvamme told HOH that plenty of bike stations will be situated throughout the cities for riders, and officials will be on hand to help folks get comfortable on their new wheels.

Kvamme doesn’t think it will be too difficult.

“It’s as easy as riding a bike,” he joked. “You hear the term used, and it’s true.”

And while Democrats typically get more green points than their counterparts — they are trying to make their convention green, after all — Kvamme told HOH that both parties “have been extremely supportive and very helpful.”

“I think it goes back to whether you’re red or blue, you’re green,” he said.

Seeing Red. If you walked by Rep. Adam Putnam’s office or the space occupied by the House Republican Conference on Tuesday, you might have noticed staffers in both places all decked out in red.

The reason? Putnam staffers threw the ginger-haired Florida Republican a surprise party for his 34th birthday (which is actually July 31) and decided to dress for the occasion.

HOH hears that the Republican Conference chairman’s crew even got him a very special birthday gift — a blown-up version of a Roll Call photo of Putnam and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.) celebrating the GOP’s recent victory in the Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

Mind the Gap. The men of Washington will revolt. Rochelle Behrens, a Quinn Gillespie junior lobbyist turned designer, has set out to eradicate one solace of their workaday lives: the gaping button-down blouse.

Behrens, who today is holding her first sample sale of a new collection of office-appropriate suits, dresses and button-downs, says she was inspired to design clothes when she started looking for a solution to the peek-a-boo effect created when a tailored shirt strains against a woman’s curves.

But she’s aware that her efforts will only go over well with half the population. “A friend told me that the men of this town will be picketing my sample sale,” she tells HOH.

Behrens, a former White House intern with a design background, has been tapping her network of Hill, White House and lobbyist pals for support, and many of them plan to turn out to snap up a few pieces of her collection.

“I would describe the line as Jackie O meets K Street,” she says.

Fashion in Washington? We’re all agape.

Briefly Quoted. “The Congress of the United States has always been an institution that has been mockable.”

— Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), responding to a question about Congress’ favorability ratings on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on Monday. Pelosi did make sure to point out that ratings for Democrats are higher than those for Republicans.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.