Heard on the Hill: Up Against the Wall

Posted March 19, 2010 at 5:54pm

The Capitol can be a tricky place to maneuver — just ask Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), who walked face first into a wall last week.

[IMGCAP(1)]Like, literally.

An HOH spy, standing near Rep. David Dreier’s House Rules Committee office in the Capitol on Wednesday, eyed McGovern (who is vice chairman of the Rules panel) walking by with an aide. Our spy overheard the McGovern staffer sarcastically ask his boss whether he wanted to stop into the California Republican’s digs to say hello — and McGovern, who apparently has spent enough time fighting Dreier in the committee, laughed and kept strolling down the hall.

And seconds later, the Congressman walked straight into a wall, our spy says.

“He just wasn’t paying attention,” the spy adds. “He just went full speed right into the wall.”

McGovern hit the wall so hard it appeared he could have hurt himself, our spy notes. But apparently he wasn’t injured and quickly played off the accident (although several people in the hallway couldn’t help but cracking a chuckle, the spy recalls).

“He was kind of dazed and just tried to mumble and pretend it didn’t happen and walked on,” our spy adds, laughing.

Despite McGovern’s play-it-cool attitude, word of his hallway ordeal spread throughout the Capitol. HOH hears Dreier even found the Congressman on the House floor to ask whether he was OK.

And while HOH guesses McGovern felt a tad bit embarrassed, he’s now laughing off the ordeal.

“The idea that Jim isn’t coordinated is ludicrous,” McGovern spokesman Michael Mershon tells HOH. “In high school, he played a mean left bench on the football team.”

Issa Gets Spring Fever. Now that spring has sprung, the heavy coats are on mothballs and the convertible tops are down. Another indicator of Washington’s warming trend? Rep. Darrell Issa is on his bike.

The California Republican pulled up to the House-side entrance of the Capitol on Friday on his BMW motorcycle, wearing an office-appropriate suit accessorized by a leather jacket and large helmet. Issa, we must note, parked the iron horse right in front of a “no parking” sign before running in to cast his vote.

Spokesman Frederick Hill noted that Issa was only popping by for a quick vote (hence the less-than-correct parking job). His boss, by the way, is a longtime motorcycle fan, but he only managed to bring his chopper to Washington last November.

“Forget the groundhog. Spring is finally here when you see a Member arriving for a vote on a motorcycle,” he tells HOH.

Rahm Strong-Arms Space. The White House seemed to be resorting to tough tactics in its push to line up votes for the health care bill — Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel put Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) in a joking (we think) headlock during a meeting Wednesday at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Space, who voted for the House bill but expressed reservations about the Senate version, was being heavily lobbied to vote for the bill. But Space spokesman Andrew Ricci indicated that his boss didn’t feel intimidated in the least.

“There’s an old joke about a former ballerina putting a former college football star in a headlock …” he tells HOH.

Hitting the e-Book. Members of Congress technically aren’t allowed to hawk commercial products — but HOH is pretty certain that if Sen. Mike Enzi were ever to leave office, he’d be the perfect pitchman for the Kindle.

On the Senate floor last week, an HOH spy eyed the Wyoming Republican showing off the digital reader to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). An Enzi spokeswoman wasn’t surprised, saying the Senator “sings its praises to anyone who will listen.”

“Since he travels so much, it is ideal in airports because he doesn’t have to lug books and papers from D.C. to Wyoming and back every weekend,” spokeswoman Elly Pickett says. “He also loves to read the Wall Street Journal on it every morning. He is a speed reader and goes through books very quickly so being able to have 1,500 books at his fingertips at all times is great.”

Enzi likes his Kindle so much that he had his chief of staff get one, too, Pickett says.

The Senator reads usually gets through more than 100 e-books a year, Pickett adds.

ISO Musical Members. HOH is convinced that most Members of Congress really just wanted to be either pro athletes or rock stars, but instead settled for holding elected office. Those who still harbor rock-god (or goddess) fantasies now have their chance to live the dream: The organizers of the GRAMMYs on the Hill are seeking musically inclined Members to perform as part of an all-Congress backup band to an actual Grammy-winning artist.

For the April 14 GRAMMYs on the Hill celebration, the organization’s Washington representative, Daryl Friedman, says they are looking for “musical talent, rock-star attitude and a voting record supporting intellectual property.” But “musical talent” seems to be loosely defined. (House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer [D-Md.]) has performed in previous years, and we seem to recall that his musical contributions consisted of enthusiastic finger-snapping.) Other past performers have included Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).

The band will back up a yet-to-be-named Grammy winner, possibly honoree Garth Brooks.

And while performers are all but guaranteed cheering fans and the spotlight, groupies, a tour bus and big hair aren’t included.

Overheard on the Hill. “Congresswoman Stephen Lynch”

— How a gender-bending e-mail from Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) identified Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), who, last we checked, was a dude. Rehberg’s e-mail urged people to call undecided Members of Congress to urge them to vote “no” on the health care bill.

Jackie Kucinich and Niels Lesniewski contributed to today’s HOH.

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