Heard on the Hill: Putting the ‘F’ in Illinois

Posted December 9, 2008 at 6:47pm

Is there something in the water in Illinois? The drinking water might be clean, but those Prairie Staters sure know how to talk dirty. The indictment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who was arrested on corruption charges on Tuesday, reveals that “Blago” might rival the legendarily blue Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) in the potty-mouth department.

[IMGCAP(1)]In the 76-page document, the feds describe Blagojevich’s intercepted conversations, and the governor’s penchant for swearing quickly becomes apparent. By HOH’s count, the indictment details 14 uses by Blagojevich of the verboten f-bomb or a variant thereof. His wife, Patricia, adds another two.

It seems that the governor’s vocabulary of swear words is pretty limited: Other than his beloved f-bomb (which he employs, variously, as a gerund, a verb, a noun and an adjective), he uses only one other swear word: s—. Mrs. B, in her cameo appearance, also uses the s-word.

Perhaps Blagojevich’s most emphatic use of profanity comes when he refers to President-elect Barack Obama as a “motherf—er.”

He also uses the word to add emphasis when talking about the power he holds by being able to appoint Illinois’ next Senator. A Senate seat “is a f—ing valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing,” he is quoted as saying.

Emanuel, who reportedly once warned Prime Minister Tony Blair not to “f— up” an appearance with then-President Bill Clinton and is known to pepper his conversations with salty language, might agree with part of that sentiment.

My First Beard. Now that he’s not the House’s resident wunderkind, it seems Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is trying to project a little gravitas. Thirty-three-year-old McHenry was the youngest Member of both the 109th and 110th Congresses, although he’ll have to hand over that title in the next Congress to 27-year-old Rep.-elect Aaron Schock (R-Ill.).

Perhaps that explains the very grown-up beard McHenry is sporting these days. A spy says the new facial hair on the usually clean-shaven and baby-faced North Carolinian was on full display during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Tuesday.

“A little spotty,” our spy said of the chin growth.

Primo Real Estate. Incoming House freshmen usually get the shaft when it comes to office space. But HOH has discovered a way for newbies to land coveted offices — just win a seat in a runoff.

That’s what happened for incoming Louisiana Rep. Anh Cao (R), who beat embattled Rep. William Jefferson (D) on Saturday. With all other House offices taken, Cao was placed in the posh 1170-square-foot space in the Rayburn House Office Building currently occupied by Jefferson, House Administration Committee spokesman Kyle Anderson confirms.

Room 2113 is a first-floor office with a view of the Rayburn courtyard — not a bad spot considering that the nine-term Jefferson had to wait his turn to get it. But Cao spokeswoman Ruth Sherlock told HOH that the incoming Congressman is just “happy to be up in Washington, D.C.”

“Obviously, we’re excited because I know most freshmen normally get basement offices,” Sherlock said.

And Cao’s not the only froshie who grabbed the House’s equivalent of Park Place. While Cao spent November on the campaign trial, incoming Rep.-elect Tom Perriello (D) attended the seminar-filled festivities that make up freshman orientation. But because Perriello was awaiting the results of his ultimately successful battle to unseat Rep. Virgil Goode (R), he wasn’t included in the freshman room lottery.

When Perriello officially was confirmed as the victor on Nov. 24, the lottery already had ended. So, Perriello was given Goode’s digs at 1520 Longworth House Office Building.

“It was a nice surprise,” Perriello spokeswoman Jessica Barba told HOH. “I don’t think it’s going to make or break our Congressional term … but it’s nice.”

Alas, even if the duo are re-elected, their good office-space fortune won’t last. Anderson confirms that Cao and Perriello will be placed into the room lottery with their own class next session — meaning they’re likely to lose those sweet digs.

Home Sweet Home. While Cao and Perriello nabbed prime real estate this session, another Member apparently is content to stay in a locale most others are known to shun.

Just like the bottom locker in high schools across America, the fifth floor of the Cannon House Office Building is typically tagged for incoming freshman. There might be a lot of history there — then-Reps. John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Richard Nixon (R-Calif.) were once inhabitants — but the atmosphere is, well, not so great.

It’s cramped. It’s dark. It’s old.

But that doesn’t seem to bother Rep. Louie Gohmert.

The Texas Republican is prepping to serve his third term in the House, and he’ll have moved offices three times. But he’s sticking to Cannon’s fifth floor.

Spokeswoman Laura Mszar told HOH that Gohmert enjoys “the peace and quiet” of the fifth floor, as well as the small ledge off of the office. The staff is moving into a nearby office next session simply because it has additional storage room and more space.

“We like the neighborhood,” Mszar said.

On Sale Now: Money! While auto execs continue to beg, plead and even give up their corporate jets in a quest to get bailout money from Congress, another federal agency is simply offering up sheets of bills to Congressional staffers.

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, the government agency charged with printing portions of passports, immigration and naturalization certificates and (most famously) currency, is selling a number of goodies today in Room 2255 in the Rayburn House Office Building. Along with vignettes, souvenir note cards and portraits, holiday shoppers can nab actual, uncut, 32-note sheets of currency.

“It’s a way to give the gift of money with a little style and flair,” said Jim Hagedorn, the bureau’s Congressional affairs officer.

While using money to buy, um, money, might seem a bit absurd (a sheet sells for $55), Hagedorn told HOH they’re among the bureau’s most popular items. Some buy a sheet as a gift, while others use it as gift wrap, Hagedorn said.

(Astute HOH readers will recall that Edwina Rogers, the wife of top GOP lobbyist Ed Rogers, created a mini-sensation a few months back when she let a TV crew capture her wrapping gifts with the currency sheets — in the gift-wrapping room of her McLean, Va., mansion, nonetheless.)

Not that Hagedorn recommends doing that. “It’s probably worth more as a sheet because it’s a novelty,” he said.

Or, you know, you can use it to buy things.

A Triple Play. Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) has doubled the size of his family in one fell swoop. His wife, Betsy Singleton Snyder, gave birth on Tuesday to triplets (holy diaper-changing, Batman!), who joined the couple’s 2-year-old son, Penn.

The babies, all boys, are doing well, Snyder’s spokeswoman told HOH, but they’ll stay in the hospital for a few weeks to gain weight.

Interesting note: Snyder is 61 and his wife, a Methodist minister, is 47, making them older than most parents of newborns. Does AARP membership get you discounts at Babies R Us?

Lauren Whittington and Emily Yehle contributed to this report.

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