HOH’s One-Minute Recess: Blame It All on Their Roots

Posted April 15, 2010 at 10:47am

It’s not every day that Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) shake their maracas while House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Texas Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D) and Louie Gohmert (R) sing about beer chasing their blues away.

[IMGCAP(1)]But Members did just that on Wednesday night, belting out a rousing rendition of Garth Brooks’ country classic “Friends in Low Places” on stage at the annual GRAMMYs on the Hill event at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel.

The Recording Academy honored the country legend at its annual D.C. soiree (also honored were Issa and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), but the two Members were pretty much overshadowed by the chart-topping superstar). At the end of the awards ceremony, Members joined O.A.R. vocalist Marc Roberge and CBS newsman Bob Schieffer on stage to sing the Brooks classic beloved by barflies across the country.

Brooks appeared wowed by the performance, giving the performers, who also included Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), a standing ovation and saying afterward that the Members put on a good show.

And while Brooks has spent the past several years largely out of the spotlight, he made the rounds in D.C. on Wednesday: President Barack Obama presented Brooks with his Grammy award at the White House before he headed to the official ceremony. And Brooks graciously received the honor a second time, telling the Member-filled crowd: “I’m glad there are people who put up with the B.S. that you do.”

Wednesday night’s celebration continues Thursday, as Grammy officials and advocates spend time on Capitol Hill to lobby Members on legislation requiring radio stations to give performers royalties for playing their music. Issa and Durbin are longtime supporters of the measure, the Performance Rights Act, which is among the reasons that they were honored by the academy.

[IMGCAP(2)]Producer Jimmy Jam and singer Sheila E. presented Durbin with his award, and Durbin promptly gave a shout-out to Conyers: “John Conyers is to good legislation like John Coltrane is to jazz.”

And Durbin couldn’t help but poke a little fun at one of his former Senate colleagues who has also been honored with a Grammy.

“Fellow by the name of Barack Obama got one of these for reading a book,” Durbin joked. “So, now I got a little more bragging rights with my president.”

Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, gave Issa with his award, recalling that when the Congressman came to Grammy weekend in Los Angeles a while back, he didn’t pay too much attention to the stars on hand — he was “far more interested in platform parity than platform shoes.”

“That’s a good line,” Portnow joked. “And true.”

But it was Schieffer who received perhaps the biggest applause of the night when he appeared on stage to introduce a performance (one that didn’t feature any Members of Congress). The newsman poked fun at his age (73) but pointed out he’s been happily married to his wife for more than 40 years.

“She’ll say, ‘Honey, do you want to run upstairs and have a little fun?’ I’ll say, ‘Honey, I can run upstairs OR have a little fun,” Schieffer deadpanned.

Another Famous Endorsement. Actor Woody Harrelson is the latest celebrity to lend support to the Healthy School Meals Act, a bill introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) that aims to provide more low-fat, vegetarian options for public school lunches.

In a letter to Members of Congress, Harrelson and his wife, Laura, write that the bill will “help children develop better eating habits, provide healthful plant-based options that naturally contain no cholesterol … and [enable] schools to reach high nutrition standards easily.”

Harrelson joins actresses Scarlett Johansson and Marilu Henner in publicly supporting the bill.

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