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Heard on the Hill: Battle of the Bow Ties

Don’t mess with … Portland?

Rep. Earl Blumenauer is readying to lay a smack-down on Newsweek contributing editor George Will after the columnist made disparaging comments about the Oregon Democrat’s hometown in a recent opinion piece.

[IMGCAP(1)]The normally collegial bow-tie-wearing Blumenauer challenged the bow-tie-wearing scribe to a duel of sorts on the House floor Wednesday, upset over Will’s Tuesday column that criticizes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s support of things such as bicycles, light rail and high-density housing.

Will’s article specifically calls out Blumenauer’s hometown of Portland, Ore. — or “the P-word,— as Will calls it — for being “progressive as all get-out— but largely out of touch with the rest of America. And not surprisingly, the bicycle-loving Blumenauer was more than a teeny bit peeved.

“In Portland the P word is Progress,— Blumenauer Twittered Tuesday night.

“I invite Mr. Will to bring his bow tie to Portland and debate me on the ground,— Blumenauer added on the House floor Wednesday. “See why a younger George Will, who may have been put off by all the Democrats and moderate Republicans, could still have admired the freedom that a high quality of life provides.—

Any chance for a quick resolution? Not likely — although Blumenauer Twittered Will’s “neckwear choice may be one area we may actually agree.—

Blumenauer spokeswoman Sahar Wali told HOH that the Congressman had not heard from Will by Wednesday afternoon, but the invitation to hold a debate in Portland remains open. And Blumenauer even promised in a statement: “We will be happy to buy his plane ticket and give him a bottle of Oregon pinot to die for.—

Is There a Doctor in the Chamber? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid isn’t a doctor, but he plays one sometimes. The Nevada Democrat made two medical pronouncements Tuesday that turned out to be … well, a little quack-y.

But his medical opinions did harken back to perhaps the Senate’s most famous in-chamber diagnosis: when former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (an actual heart surgeon) diagnosed Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman whose case sparked legislation back in 2005.

The Tennessee Republican memorably took to the Senate floor to announce that he had seen video footage of Schiavo that led him to make a controversial diagnosis that contradicted her doctors’ assessment that she was in a permanent vegetative state. Go to RollCall.com to watch the video.

Reid’s doctor impersonation Tuesday prompted some comparisons. “He’s pulling a Frist!— one Senate staffer joked.

Reid first dropped the news that Sen. Edward Kennedy’s brain cancer was in remission, which was shocking because the Massachusetts Democrat’s prognosis had reportedly been glum. But, oops, not so fast — Dr. Reid had spoken too soon, and his spokesman, Jim Manley, clarified that Reid “will leave the diagnosing to doctors.—

Later, Reid said Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) would be leaving the hospital, where the 91-year-old is being treated for an infection. A Byrd spokesman, though, told reporters that his release hasn’t been set.

Somebody get Reid some scrubs — stat!

(Car) Talk Is Cheap. Sen. Orrin Hatch on Wednesday sounded like a car salesman, joining with the makers of a new electric Hummer to promote the wonders of the fancy (and eco-friendly!) sport utility vehicle.

At a press conference, Hatch sang the truck’s praises and even took the SUV out for a little cruise, but he admitted that he’s too thrifty to snap up one for himself. Hatch confessed that he drives an “older Cadillac— and his wife helms a Honda Accord (a pronouncement the Hummer gods apparently didn’t like; the statement was followed by a loud noise when audio equipment came crashing down, smacking the guy standing to Hatch’s immediate right).

The oh-so-green Hummer could be the Utah Republican’s next ride — but only if he can score a bargain. “I’m going to be one of the first to get a nice used one, when I can afford one,— Hatch said.

Gone to Pot. Aside from offering up juicy gossip or poking fun at Congressional leaders, HOH, on occasion, likes to provide readers with some pointers to help navigate life on Capitol Hill.

Unfortunately, recent events have forced us to once again offer up this piece of advice: Don’t try to take illegal drugs into the Capitol. You will, most likely, get caught.

At about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Capitol Police conducted a routine search of Capitol visitor Casey Jordan at the South Screening Facility, according to a police summary report. An officer at the scene noticed that Jordan had “a small container of a green leafy substance— with him.

Of course, you know what happened next. The officer “asked the Defendant what it was, and he stated it was marijuana.’—

Busted.

A technician arrived at the scene and “conducted the appropriate tests,— determining that the substance was, in fact, marijuana, according to the report. Jordan then was placed under arrest, charged with a misdemeanor possession of marijuana and taken to police headquarters.

Now, HOH won’t get into the debate over the legality of marijuana. But we will say this — leave the stash at home, dudes.

Suited for a Challenge. So much for a bruising interchamber competition. The House easily ran away with bragging rights in the annual Congressional Dress for Success Challenge, which for the first time pitted the House against the Senate to see which could donate the most clothes.

As the clothing drive — which provides suits and other apparel to low-income women looking to enter the job market — wrapped up Wednesday afternoon, the House was the clear winner, with more than 1,000 pieces donated.

The Senate, despite the best efforts of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who dropped off some clothes herself, came up with just more than 400.

But c’mon folks, this is for charity (and for full disclosure, Roll Call was the event’s media sponsor) — so doesn’t everybody win?

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