Heard on the Hill: A Veep Pick, er, Pluck

Posted August 8, 2008 at 4:23pm

A Veep Pick, er, Pluck. There are some potential vice presidential choices that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) could make that would raise eyebrows. One of the possible veeps Obama is said to be considering, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, already has eyebrow issues.

[IMGCAP(1)]Kaine’s brows — arched, wiggly and what most people remember from the Democrat’s rebuttal to the State of the Union speech in 2006 — have become one of the chief objections from

some pundits to Kaine taking a spot on the Democratic ticket.

For the definitive word on the topic, HOH contacted eyebrow guru to the stars (no seriously, it’s what he’s known for) Erwin Gomez of the Erwin Gomez Salon & Spa in Georgetown, who thinks Kaine needs to step up his game, grooming-wise, if he wants to go from guv to the No. 2 guy in the White House. His prescription? A good trim and “sculpting” with scissors and a bit of plucking for a cleaner, more professional look.

“You’ve got to fit the part, and if he wants to stand next to Obama — who is very well-groomed and neat — he should consider it,” Gomez tells HOH.

Other potential vice presidential picks have made changes that might boost their chances of making it on the ballot with presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz): Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty lost his “demi-mullet” ’do for a more sophisticated, campaign-ready coif, and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist even got married, in a move some cynics attributed to his national political aspirations.

Gomez says he understands how sensitive some men are over matters of their toilette, so he’s offering Kaine total privacy and discretion if he wants to take the brow artist up on his suggestion. But it ain’t cheap: An initial session runs $75, with monthly upkeep at $50 a pop.

And Kaine wouldn’t be alone in the Eyebrow Club for Pols. Gomez claims to have more than a few politicians on his client list, but in true what-happens-in-the-salon-stays-in-the-salon fashion, he’s not naming names.

Amtrak Series. And you thought softball wars were just for Washington. Staffers from the offices of Democratic New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton are taking their rivalry interstate.

Clinton’s team, the Hill’s Angels, trounced Schumer’s Press Hits in a two-game series, one match of which they played in Manhattan and the other on the National Mall.

Bunning’s Autopen: Priceless. An HOH spy spotted Hall of Fame pitcher Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) in Cooperstown, N.Y., signing autographs for $50 each during July’s celebration for the induction of new members to Major League Baseball’s temple of gods.

Depending on the item, Bunning’s John Hancock can be had for half that price on eBay, though some Bunning items go for much more. A $50 signature by a Hall of Famer is certainly in the ballpark — you can spend hundreds for a Cal Ripken Jr. signature on the right item — and besides, Bunning’s sales go to a good cause: the Jim Bunning Foundation.

The foundation is a charity that lives almost entirely off the proceeds of Bunning’s signing fees, according to its Internal Revenue Service tax records and Bunning’s personal financial disclosure forms. Since its creation in 1996, the foundation has doled out dozens of little grants each year, mostly to Catholic schools and kids’ charities, never totaling more than $20,000 in a year.

The foundation’s largest outlay every year is the salary of it’s sole employee: Jim Bunning. The Senator reports a $20,000 annual salary from the foundation, and the organization reports to the IRS annual salary costs of about $31,000, the difference presumably being payroll taxes and other miscellaneous costs of paying Bunning for the “avg. 1hr./wk.” that he works.

In 2007, the foundation took in about $62,000 from Bunning’s signings, about $51,000 in 2006 and $42,000 in 2005, so Bunning is obviously not paid by piecework; he made $20,000 each year.

But the bottom line is that if you paid the Senator $50 to ink your vintage Philadelphia Phillies baseball cap, he’s probably pocketing less than half that total.

Insult to Injury. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is getting plenty of knocks for her new book on women in leadership, “Know Your Power: A Message to America’s Daughters.”

The Drudge Report crowed last week that its sales were in the toilet, and a Washington Post review slammed it for being “slight (in every sense of the word).” Now the book is stirring more controversy, with conservative bloggers claiming that online bookseller Amazon.com has scrubbed hundreds of negative reviews of the book.

Commenters on conservative blogs like freerepublic.com last week were outraged that reader reviews giving the book only one star — denoting a negative review — had been removed from the site.

But an Amazon spokeswoman tells HOH the company removed nearly 300 reviews, not because of their political slant, but because they didn’t fit Amazon’s posting guidelines for reviews. The policy states that reviews must “focus on specific features of the product and your experience with it.” Additionally, “spiteful remarks” and “distasteful content” are banned.

“It’s not uncommon for people to use reviews as an opportunity to vent,” spokeswoman Patty Smith says. “That’s a manner for which it wasn’t intended … and we remove those.”

Pelosi’s book publicist Nicole Dewey says many of the negative reviews were posted by people who had a beef with Pelosi the politician, not Pelosi the author. “They’re policy attacks, not attacks on the book,” she tells HOH.

Dewey also sought to counter some of the negative press, noting that Pelosi’s book is at No. 18 on the New York Times best- seller list and that she’s speaking to sellout crowds on her book tour.

And although Pelosi knows a thing or two about coming out on top, she’s still trailing behind a few of Washington’s leading men — at least in one regard.

Last HOH checked, Pelosi’s book was ranked 1,522 among all books on Amazon, and No. 11 in government titles. Among the government books ahead of Pelosi’s were Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) best-seller, “The Audacity of Hope,” and former Speaker Newt Gingrich’s (R-Ga.) new book, “Real Change.”

Cardigan Optional. While the House was brawling over energy prices and the presidential campaigns were trading ever-uglier barbs, one Member was all about civility: Sen. Jack Reed, on his way back to his own Rhode Island neighborhood, introduced legislation recognizing the importance of National Neighbor Day, National Good Neighbor Day and National Neighborhood Day.

The Democrat’s feel-good bill notes “gestures of welcoming and kindness between neighbors foster community peace, harmony and understanding” and “being good neighbors to those around us encourages mutual respect and friendship.” And neighborhoods “enhance the foundation of an effective and more caring society,” the measure reads.

Perhaps Members of Congress should be better neighbors? Apparently Reed thinks so. He’s even taking on the role of Mr. Rogers, encouraging Congress in the bill to “undertake appropriate ceremonies, events, and activities” associated with the three neighborly holidays.

Uh, and he would like to know whether he can borrow your lawn mower.

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