Heard on the Hill: Grassley’s Reefer Madness

Posted September 23, 2008 at 6:56pm

Sen. Chuck Grassley, wearer of sweater vests and imbiber of nothing stronger than a nice glass of lemonade, is not, we repeat, not a stoner. But, dude, the Iowa Republican sure sounded like one during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday in which he went on at length about the artwork on the cover of the trippy Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon” and then quoted from popular stoner movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

[IMGCAP(1)]HOH couldn’t quite follow the analogy Grassley was making when he stood before a blown-up poster of the Pink Floyd album cover, which features a large prism against a celestial background with a beam of light passing through it. “Dark Side of the Moon” is considered a classic among the stoner set, particularly when played simultaneously with the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” with the sound turned down. Or so we hear.

The Iowan was trying somehow to say that the prism image was a metaphor for the compromise Republicans and Democrats should make on tax legislation. In the metaphor, the prism represented the compromise, while the refracted beam of light represented policies like tax extenders and alternative minimum tax. We think.

Before waxing eloquent about “strands of light” and the “shards” of a fractured prism, Grassley made it clear that he wasn’t a devotee of Pink Floyd — unlike the legions of college kids whose dorm walls that same image graces — just that he found its artwork useful to illustrate his point. “Now, I’m not of course a big fan of rock music,” Grassley intoned. “I’m not a fan of its lyrics and its culture.”

But, perhaps unwittingly, Grassley was on a roll with the stoner allusions, including a glance at the 2000 movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?” starring Iowa native Ashton Kutcher, which follows the travails of two potheads who can’t remember where, um, they left their car. After finishing with the prism analogy, Grassley went on to talk about energy conservation, noting that many public officials have air-conditioned cars idling while waiting for them at curbs, wasting gas. Grassley proudly noted that he drives his own car, thank you very much, including a Ford Taurus he keeps in Iowa.

“If you do see anyone else driving my car, please call the police, because someone has stolen my car,” he said. “I’d like to refer to Ashton Kutcher here, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, saying ‘dude, where’s my car?’”

A staffer changed the sign behind Grassley to a scene from the flick.

A Grassley spokeswoman was amused at HOH’s detection of smoky references in her boss’ speech and says it was completely unintentional. “No one here is versed in that aspect of pop culture,” she said.

After leaving the floor, Grassley was spotted heading for the Cloakroom, which HOH hears is well-stocked with munchies.

Confusing the Krupas. When you’re a relative political newcomer in the midst of a tough election battle, it helps to have name recognition — even (or perhaps especially) if it confuses you with a Playboy covergirl.

Take Illinois politician Joan Krupa, who is running for the 92nd district seat in the Illinois House of Representatives. A 63-year-old former schoolteacher known for overseeing a community-based health care clinic, the Republican is running neck-and-neck with Democrat Jehan Gordon for the open seat.

Then there’s Joanna Krupa, a 29-year-old supermodel whom Playboy once deemed “the sexiest swimsuit model in the world.” Krupa also was one of the girls who jumped on a trampoline on “The Man Show” and even did a nude photo shoot for animal rights group PETA.

Obviously, the two Krupas don’t have much in common beyond their names, but the coincidence has brought a bit of lightheartedness to the tight race. Joan Krupa has even joked about it on the trail, telling supporters that “your spouse will be wondering” if they Google the wrong Krupa. Local newspapers and blogs also have made light of it, campaign manager Steven Shearer tells HOH.

And for now, the campaign is just going along with it. “If something like that gets people to pay attention, it can’t hurt,” Shearer says.

Coach Trumps Senator. HOH didn’t have her handy applause-o-meter handy when a group of college basketball coaches, Members of Congress and cancer activists met on Tuesday morning to rally for increased cancer-research funding. But she’s pretty sure that Gary Williams, the University of Maryland men’s basketball coach, got a bigger cheer than his state’s junior Senator, Benjamin Cardin (D).

Cardin introduced home-state hero Williams, who was in town with fellow coaches including Jim Boeheim of Syracuse University, Jim Calhoun of the University of Connecticut, Fran Dunphy of Temple University and Mark Gottfried of the University of Alabama, for an event sponsored by the American Cancer Society and the Cancer Action Network. Cardin did claim to have the “home court advantage” over the other coaches, and he took the opportunity to show his home-state pride. “Go Terps!” Cardin shouted.

Williams, though, paid tribute to Cardin, praising him for taking the time to help the coaches give a pep talk to the activists even as Congress grapples with the Wall Street meltdown. “Obviously, there’s not a lot going on this week,” Williams deadpanned. “So he had plenty of time.”

Beating Dead Horses in a Gross-Out Contest. Alfred Hitchcock would be proud. Tuesday’s debate over legislation that bans the sale of horses overseas for human consumption got even ickier than even the topic might suggest when one lawmaker raised the specter of birds feeding on animal carcasses.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) complained during a House Judiciary markup that while the bill might protect our four-hoofed friends from being turned into dinner in other countries, it doesn’t assure the animals are taken care of if they stay here. The result will be more abandoned horses dying and an increase the number of flesh-eating buzzards. “This legislation is so thoroughly misguided,” King said. As a result, “the buzzard population will go up” throughout the country, he warned.

Picky, picky …

Not Funny, but Seeking Money. Al Franken, the comedian-turned-Minnesota Democratic Senate candidate, is back to being all work and no play. Just after news broke that the former “Saturday Night Live” actor was back to his wise-cracking ways by helping pen a skit SNL aired on Saturday bashing GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), it seems Franken is serious once more.

Appearing Tuesday night at the National Jewish Democratic Council’s conference in Washington, Franken was joke-free, as he has mostly been on the campaign trail while he tries to burnish his image as a serious guy.

But he did lighten up during the most crucial bit of his speech: the fundraising pitch. “I’m not going to sit here or stand here and ask for money — that wouldn’t be proper,” he told the crowd after describing his tough race to unseat Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.). But that didn’t mean he wasn’t passing the hat. “You can go to alfranken.com,” he finished.

Daniel Peake of GalleryWatch and Stephen Langel of CongressNow contributed to this report.

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