Heard on the Hill: Predictions for an Unpredictable 2009

Posted January 22, 2009 at 3:06pm

No one really knows what 2009 will bring — after all, who would have thought, a year ago, that we’d be talking about a depression that can’t be helped by Zoloft, or that Trig was anything other than a high-school math class?

[IMGCAP(1)]Nevertheless, HOH pulled out our crystal ball, Ouija board and a cocktail shaker for good measure, to try to figure out what we’ll be writing about — and what you’ll be buzzing about — in the year to come.

Here are our oh-so-scientific predictions:

February: Several of the celebrities who came to town for President Barack Obama’s inauguration decide to remain in Washington and seek jobs in the White House and Congress.

Hip-hop artist Jay-Z joins the staff of House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), where the rapper’s rap sheet (he once pleaded guilty to stabbing a rival record exec) proves useful in corralling wayward Democrats. “It’s a good look for me right now,” he tells HOH. “I can’t wait to start hurting people.”

Seeing no hope in overtaking Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) as the longest-serving Member of Congress, Rep. Mary Bono Mack instead takes a shot at stringing together the longest name in Congress. The California Republican begins on Valentine’s Day divorcing and marrying a series of men, yielding the unlikely moniker: Mary Bono Mack (the Knife) Donalds Aloysius Kennedy Jolie-Pitt Whitaker.

She copyrights the title to bolster her royalty income from “I Got You Babe.”

March: With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, proud Irishman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduces legislation to force all McDonald’s restaurants to serve Shamrock Shakes at all American locations year-round. Currently, the shakes are only offered a few weeks before the holiday, and only at select restaurants.

“It’s ridiculous that all Americans can’t enjoy this delicious Irish-inspired beverage whenever they see fit,” King says of the famed vanilla shake, which is flavored with mint extract and dyed green for extra gaelic flair. “McDonald’s must wake up to their discriminatory actions.”

Congress passes the measure overwhelmingly, but not before various Members amend the bill with language requiring McDonald’s to bring back the McRib and Arch Deluxe.

April: Expected Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner fulfills his commitment to avoid embarrassing, avoidable mistakes by filing his taxes electronically with H&R Block rather than TurboTax. Despite his pulling an all-nighter, the Internal Revenue Service audits him again. But he overrules the investigation and asks for a do-over.

“This is the change the president was talking about after his second swearing-in,” Geithner explains later.

Republican Norm Coleman finally renounces all legal claims to his former Minnesota Senate seat. He also announces a departure from his consulting job with the Republican Jewish Coalition for an undisclosed but lucrative post lobbying on behalf of large, flat states.

The notably toothy ex-Senator also accepts a side job as a pitchman for Crest Whitestrips The more lucrative gigs, he explains, allow him to trade the basement apartment with a hot plate that he endured during his Senate career for a tonier Georgetown address. “Hey, a man’s gotta eat,” he tells HOH.

May: Weeks before the finale of American Idol, songwriting Sen. Orrin Hatch appears as a guest mentor on the program, leading the 20-something contestants to perform ditties such as “Freedom’s Light,” “I Love Old Glory” and the toe-tapper “Together Forever,” which the Utah Republican wrote for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008. After decades of writing music in relative obscurity, Hatch suddenly becomes an overnight star and is even picked to pen Beyoncé’s new album.

Meanwhile, Members become concerned that Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hasn’t been seen on any television news programs in, like, three days. “I just get shy sometimes,” Schumer, dodging cameras, tells a reporter.

June: Taking the Green the Capitol Initiative a step further than many staffers would like, Chief Administrative Officer Dan Beard installs green roofs on House office buildings and replaces the cafeterias with pick-your-own-produce stands.

Taco Salad Day is replaced by Bushel of Bok Choy Day.

In a landmark ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts writes that students must now “Pledge to the United States of America, Flag Allegiance.”

July: Since Congress passed legislation that fixed the economy, health care, education, the environment and even Social Security within President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office, bored Members find themselves planning their August recess getaways. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) even sends out a “Dear Colleague” letter asking Members to sign on for a jaunt to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. “I’m renting a beach house and am planning to rent out Señor Frog’s one night! It’s going to be sweet,” she writes.

August: Over recess, all of Washington goes abuzz after shirtless photos emerge of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vacationing with Bono in Mustique.

The Internet sensation over the paparazzi pics rivals that of the vacationing Barack Obama in Hawaii in 2008 and put Reid on the cover of Us Weekly’s “Best Beach Bods” issue.

September: The spirit of bipartisanship is suddenly broken when Members find there isn’t enough money left to fund the federal government. In an effort to raise some extra cash, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) jointly announce that they’ve agreed to sell the naming rights to the Capitol building — now called “The Capitol presented by Coca-Cola” — for $2 million. While the two leaders announce the effort a success — “Hey, at least we found an American company who’d do it,” Pelosi quips — Pepsi-loving Members are outraged by the effort, creating a new Congressional divide along lines of soda preference rather than political party.

October: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) suffers a freak tanning-bed accident in his hideaway office due to a power surge, with some reports indicating the surge stemmed from the recently implemented use of cow flatulence to power the Capitol complex as part of the Green the Capitol Initiative.

The accident damages Boehner’s tear ducts, rendering him unable to cry. Also, the mishap apparently impairs the Republican leader’s fashion sense: The usually dapper Boehner begins wearing bedroom slippers and hand-me-down cardigans from Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) around the Capitol.

In related news, Frank earns a spot on GQ’s “best dressed” list, having spent his stimulus check on spiffier new duds.

November: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), seeking to avoid all the flak she took in 2008 for pardoning a turkey while others were slaughtered around her, issues an executive order declaring it open turkey-hunting season. “I just decided to skip the whole pardoning thing for a big hunt, which is what real pro-America Americans love to do anyway,” Palin says. “I urge all Alaska residents to grab their guns, jump into helicopters and start shooting those birds, which are linked to terrorists.”

December: Oscar buzz builds for the “Frost/Nixon” sequel, “Olbermann/Bachmann.” Despite critics’ raves for Ben Affleck’s performance as the outraged newsman and Tina Fey’s as the unhinged Congresswoman, the film puts up dismal box office numbers.

Talk turns to 2010 races, with Florida’s 16th district emerging as one of the most interesting. Political observers expect former Republican Rep. Mark Foley and Democratic Rep. Tim Mahoney, each of whom held the seat before suffering respective scandals, to vie for the seat in what pundits describe as a “disgrace-off.”

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