Heard on the Hill: We Interrupt This Hearing

Posted May 13, 2009 at 6:29pm

Of course, anyone watching Wednesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing live over the Internet must have been riveted by the proceedings.

[IMGCAP(1)]The topic was important, natch: the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Budget Request from the Department of Defense (sorry, HOH seems to be nodding off already).

But viewers got a dose of something a little livelier than the business at hand when the hearing was interrupted for several minutes and those tuning in found themselves watching a scene from the 2004 movie “Barbershop 2: Back in Business— starring Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer.

Committee spokeswoman Lara Battles said the panel experienced a technical snafu when “something was unplugged— in the crowded hearing room.

She credits the staff of the House recording studio for its quick work in getting the problem fixed — but not before some people watching the hearing saw almost five minutes of “Barbershop,— which was airing on the USA Network at the same time as the hearing.

HOH can only imagine that the flick was a teensy bit more entertaining than the hearing.

It’s All Greek to Him. When news emerged that “Top Chef— alum Spike Mendelsohn had purchased Zack’s Taverna on Pennsylvania Avenue, HOH immediately thought of the Greek restaurant’s most famous patron, Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

After all, the Ohio Democrat is a regular at the restaurant (so much so that his photo graces the wall). But change is coming to Zack’s Taverna (which is located next to Mendelsohn’s Good Stuff Eatery burger joint) — the restaurant soon will change its name to Greek Islands and offer a “younger and hipper— menu, Mendelsohn’s sister, Micheline Mendelsohn, told HOH on Wednesday.

While Kucinich doesn’t know what the changes are, according to spokesman Nathan White, it seems he’ll give Mendelsohn the benefit of the doubt — under one condition.

“Zack and the previous owner always found a way to accommodate vegans, and he hopes that the new owner will be able to continue that practice,— White said.

Kucinich can take comfort: Micheline Mendelsohn reassures HOH that the new management will accommodate regulars. “If someone really liked a dish, we can always run it as a special,— she said.

Beauty Queen Sisterhood. Donald Trump isn’t the only person supporting embattled Miss California Carrie Prejean — she’s got the support of a fellow tiara-wearer.

Miss Utah Kayla Barclay appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference Wednesday to support legislation promoting Internet safety education. Barclay, who also met with Utah Reps. Rob Bishop (R) and Jason Chaffetz (R) and staffers for Rep. Jim Matheson (D) — has used her reign to advocate for increased Internet safety.

But HOH couldn’t help but ask the Utahn about Prejean, who drew controversy after announcing during the recent Miss USA pageant that she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

Although the two competed in rival pageants — Barclay in Miss America, Prejean in Miss USA — Barclay told HOH that she supports her fellow beauty queen.

“In a pageant, I think it’s awesome to say what we believe,— Barclay said. “We do it knowing that everybody might not agree with what we say.—

Barclay added she was impressed with Prejean’s composure during the pageant’s fallout (and subsequent controversy when risqué photos of Prejean emerged), comparing it to the response of pageant judge Perez Hilton (who posted plenty of snarky blog posts about the whole thing). It “showed his true character,— she said.

The whole controversy has put Barclay in higher demand, she said — Wednesday’s press conference was the first where she got to talk for more than a few seconds, she joked. “Publicity is definitely a good thing,— Barclay said.

Wasserman Schultz’s Parental Woes. Joining Miss Utah Kayla Barclay at Wednesday’s press conference (see above item) was Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who sponsored the legislation promoting Internet safety education. And the Florida Democrat admitted she is in a constant struggle with her own twin children, Jake and Rebecca, over their Internet use.

“For the last two weeks, my 9-year-olds have been bothering me to let them put up Facebook profiles,— she said. “I have repeatedly told them no.—

Why? Facebook’s rules ban profiles for kids younger than 12 — although Wasserman Schultz said her kids respond by naming five or six friends who have profiles.

“My kids have been online for years already, and they’re only 9. My 5-year-old is on the Internet every day,— Wasserman Schultz said.

It’s impossible to block all the bad things children can see online, so educating them about Internet safety is vital, she said. “Our children need to understand what they put online stays online,— Wasserman Schultz added.

He’s With the Band. HOH spotted Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), acting like a huge fan of either former NBA-er Magic Johnson or former ABC-er Ted Koppel, both of whom appeared at an HIV/AIDS event Wednesday.

Markey was grinning like a groupie as he snapped photos of the function, which was sponsored by amFAR (the Foundation for AIDS Research) and Research America, using a digital camera.

But then we realized that while Markey might admire either the basketball-great-turned-AIDS activist or the legendary newsman, he is probably a bigger fan of the chairwoman of the gathering, Susan Blumenthal, who is the senior adviser to amFAR — and Markey’s wife.

Johnson shared details of his own struggle with HIV during an interview with Koppel, before accepting an award from the AIDS research organization. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also snagged an award.

Among the more impressive details revealed in the Koppel-Johnson interview: Johnson does an hour to an hour and a half of cardio exercise a day, he said, either on a treadmill or by boxing. He views the routine as key to staying healthy after he was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and as an escape from the demands of his business and family.

“I tell my wife please do not work out with me’ … that’s my hour and a half,— he said.

All-Member Spin Class. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) squeezed in a workout in the Rayburn House Office Building foyer Wednesday, taking in a mini-cycling class at the first Congressional Cycling Fitness Fair.

HOH caught up with the bicycle-loving Blumenauer, who pedals to work every day from his home near Eastern Market. We asked him for tips on how bicyclists can deal with the upcoming humid weather — or all that recent rain that we’ve been having.

Blumenauer didn’t sympathize with those who see bad weather as a bicycling deterrent, telling HOH that there’s plenty of effective gear to help combat the rain, sleet or snow.

“This is what people used to regard as life,— Blumenauer said. “If it’s hot, you get warm. If it’s raining, you get wet.—

The perks of biking, which include burning extra calories and reducing carbon emissions, outweigh the bad, Blumenauer said.

“You never get stuck in traffic,— he said. “You never worry about where to park.—

Another Sánchez. The Sánchez franchise is growing. Rep. Linda Sánchez and husband Jim Sullivan welcomed their first child, little Joaquin Sánchez Sullivan on Wednesday.

The baby was born in Washington and both mom and baby are well, according to the announcement from the California Democrat’s office.

“I couldn’t be happier,— Sánchez said in a statement. Of course, Dad’s thrilled, too: “Joaquin’s arrival is a long awaited welcome in our lives and we are richer because of it,— he added.

And while clearly the baby’s arrival was much-anticipated, apparently Sánchez’s staffers didn’t know in advance whether it would be a boy or a girl. The press release that went out initially included this sentence: “At this time, the family is enjoying their new addition and will be introducing him/her to the 39th District soon.—

An updated release sent out moments later read “him— instead of “him/her.—

Geof Koss of CongressNow contributed to this report.

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