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Heard on the Hill: Not Exactly Good Sports

Looks like Rep. John Campbell won’t be rooting for Maryland in the NCAA tournament.

[IMGCAP(1)]The California Republican spent much of his Wednesday trying to defeat a resolution introduced by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) congratulating the university’s men’s basketball team for “an outstanding season.” And Campbell’s fight against Hoyer’s measure (which passed, barely) was personal.

Astute HOH readers will recall that in late 2009, Campbell’s bill saluting the University of California at Irvine’s men’s volleyball team for winning the national title was pulled from the floor after Campbell got into a legislative fight over a water bill introduced by Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.).

So when Hoyer’s sports measure hit the floor, Campbell again seized the opportunity to point out his Irvine resolution remains stalled — and talk a little trash about Maryland basketball.

“A national championship-winning team from a Republican gets pulled [and Hoyer] then puts up a team that doesn’t even win its conference, who lost in the first round of its conference tournament and has the lowest graduation rate of all 64 teams in the playoffs? And that gets a resolution?” Campbell told a Roll Call reporter. “I mean, come on.”


Campbell said he spoke to Hoyer on Tuesday night, but the pair couldn’t reach an agreement. Campbell added that if he had time to properly whip the bill, he could have stopped it.

“You know, a lot of people think we shouldn’t be doing these resolutions anyway,” Campbell said. “Are we going to do them for any team that makes the playoffs? Oh my God. Men’s and women’s sports? We’ll be doing thousands.”

A Hoyer spokeswoman said Campbell’s opposition shows that “Republicans are staying true to their ‘party of no’ doctrine.”

“Whether it’s health care, job creation or basketball, Republicans aren’t for anything,” the spokeswoman said.

Race to the Finish. Forget college basketball — in Alaska, the biggest sporting event of the year is the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. And when winner Lance Mackey and his team of hardworking canines crossed the finish line at 6:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday (2:59 p.m. Alaska time), the Last Frontier’s Senators raced to congratulate him.

Just moments after Mackey’s win, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) sent an e-mail saluting the musher, which landed in an HOH spy’s inbox at 7:01 p.m. Sen. Mark Begich (D) wasn’t far behind, as his similarly themed e-mail hit our spy’s inbox at 7:03 p.m.

Even so, HOH guesses Mackey had the harder race — 1,150 miles in nine days.

Ethics Go Braugh. Ah, the trappings of St. Patrick’s Day: green beer, shamrocks and, if you’re in Washington, an ethics guide to buying drinks for Congressional staffers.

The publisher of a guide on complying with lobbying rules on Wednesday sent an e-mail noting a selection from the “Lobbying Compliance Handbook” that deals with a timely topic — paying for booze.

“We figured everyone’s going to be in the bars tonight,” said Elise Hill, an editor with Columbia Books & Information Services.

“Lobbyists can’t buy a Guinness specifically for a congressional member or staffer, but the ethics committees have given some guidance on when they might be able to cover a round of drinks for a group of people that includes a congressional member or staffer,” the e-mail says. Senate rules allow lobbyists to cover $10 worth of food “where such food items are normally offered to others,” while the “House standard is ‘group or social setting.'”

HOH suggests putting the guidelines on a laminated card that’s easy to read after a whiskey or two.

Political Bracketology. President Barack Obama revealed his NCAA tournament bracket picks Wednesday (he has the University of Kansas beating the University of Kentucky for the title), but the POTUS isn’t the only politician suffering from March Madness.

Sen. John Thune’s campaign is sponsoring a bracket challenge for supporters, awarding official Thune gear to those who submit the three most accurate predictions. (The top prize is a flashy Thune sweatshirt, with the second- and third-place finishers winning a handy coffee mug and water bottle, respectively).

The South Dakota Republican released his bracket, also predicting Kansas over Kentucky in the championship.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, meanwhile, took a break from hiking the Appalachian Trail to release a mock bracket for “Big Government Basketball,” a spoof highlighting the “big government encroachment” of legislation such as health care reform, according to a release.

“Many view the current bill being debated as Congress’s version of March Madness, and we believe it represents a trillion dollar mistake,” Sanford said. He later added, “I’d once again urge all taxpayers to put on a full court press.”

Hoyer: Yadda, Yadda, Yiddish? House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s repeated references Wednesday to parricide might have raised a few eyebrows. After all, casual anecdotes about murdering one’s parents certainly aren’t the norm in political discourse.

The Maryland Democrat appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” with Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.), where he used a murderous analogy to describe the GOP’s opposition to Democratic leaders’ suggestion to pass health care legislation using a “deem and pass” strategy. Hoyer told host George Stephanopoulos that Republicans were like “the boy who killed both his parents and then wants sympathy because he’s an orphan.” Hoyer repeated a version of that metaphor during a later interview on MSNBC.

“Mr. Hoyer’s frustrations are understandable considering the year he’s had, but I’m not sure that murder is a good analogy for an early morning TV audience,” Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said.

But at least one faction wasn’t too surprised by the colorful language. The story of a boy who murders his parents and seeks mercy from the courts because he’s an orphan is a commonly cited definition for the Yiddish word “chutzpah.”

Ira Forman, CEO of the National Jewish Democratic Council, says that anecdote is well-known among Jews. And he says Hoyer’s so close to the Jewish community that it’s only natural that Jewish-isms might roll off his tongue. “He might not be fluent in Yiddish,” Forman tells HOH. “But he’s fluent in Yiddishkeit.”

Yiddishkeit, Forman tells us, means “Jewishness.”

So if the health care bill does pass, we can only expect Hoyer will use the phrase “mazel tov” on the morning shows.

Overheard on the Hill. “Chinese food will be served.”

— An enticement to attend a health care briefing Wednesday in the Rayburn House Office Building by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean. In an apparent bid to pack the house (if the promise of egg rolls wasn’t sufficient), the e-mailed invite also noted, “Interns and Staff Welcome.”

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