Heard on the Hill: Washington Exposure

Posted April 19, 2010 at 7:16pm

Actress Janine Turner, best known for her role as gamine bush pilot Maggie O’Connell in the show “Northern Exposure,” says being a Hollywood conservative has hurt her career and might have contributed to a recent part on a hit show getting axed.

[IMGCAP(1)]Turner played Katie McCoy on the hit show “Friday Night Lights,” but she says her character was written out of the show, and her conservative politics might have been the reason.

“I was a real odd duck, and the feeling was estranged,” she said of life on the set after campaigning for the Republican presidential ticket in 2008. “I’m not going to say why, but I wasn’t called back. … This is making conservatives afraid to take a stand.”

Turner was in Washington on Monday to hype her nonprofit, Constituting America, which sponsors a contest for school-aged kids to express through the arts the importance of the Constitution.

She stopped by Americans for Tax Reform, where she looked every bit the stereotypical native Texan (and nothing like her flannel-wearing character on “Northern Exposure”): pale-blonde hair in a poufy flip, red nails and lips, and a leopard dress, spewing a giant, high-pitched laugh. Her most prominent accessory, though, was slightly less glamorous ­­— a tattered, dog-eared, bookmarked copy of the Federalist Papers, which she referred to countless times during a question-and-answer session with reporters.

Turner hasn’t met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill just yet, although she said she’d like to in future trips to Washington. She’s intrigued by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and feels a kinship with former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

“She sticks to her principles,” Turner said of the former GOP vice presidential candidate. “I’m doing that and I’m having to pay for it, and so is she.”

Good as Gold. It’s going to be just like the Oscars, only for Congressional computer geeks.

And there probably won’t be as many paparazzi.

The Congressional Management Foundation is slated to release its list of the top Congressional Web sites on Wednesday, handing out coveted Gold Mouse Awards to the best Member, leadership and committee offices in both chambers. But this year, rather than release the results in a plain ol’ press release, the CMF will unveil the winners during a reception and ceremony at the swanky Willard hotel.


More than 100 sites will be honored, HOH hears, and on four different levels: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. The CMF’s Tim Hysom tells HOH that the organization has always wanted to host a special event to honor the Members (and perhaps more importantly, staffers) who put together Congress’ best Web sites.

“As HOH knows, one of the best ways to inspire creativity and innovation on Capitol Hill is through a little good-natured competition among Members,” Hysom says. “We hope the event will become a regular part of our once-per-Congress evaluation.”

So who could be taking home an award? The CMF remains tight-lipped, but HOH points out a safe bet might be Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), who has been honored every time the awards have been given out.

Out of the Woods. The obligatory resolution congratulating professional golfer Phil Mickelson for winning the 2010 Masters Tournament was introduced last week — and HOH couldn’t help but notice that while the bill offers praise for the three-time Masters champion, little is mentioned of the man whose return to golf loomed large over Augusta.

Introduced by Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), the measure honors Mickelson for bringing “great pride and honor to his family and friends through the tremendous skill, patience, and determination he displayed in victory.” Broun also highlights Mickelson’s charity work, noting the golfer’s foundation has “supported a variety of youth and family initiatives.”

Little attention is paid to Tiger Woods, who made his return to the links at the Masters following the sex scandal over his many, many, um, marital indiscretions. The bill lists Woods among Masters champions including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Sam Snead, but nothing else is included in the bill about the embattled golfer.

It’s just another example of how the once-mighty Woods has fallen. Along with losing endorsement deals, the golfer lost his legislative credibility — Woods was even up for a much-coveted Congressional Gold Medal before the scandal broke.

Relatively Speaking. In a Congressional version of the phone-a-friend option on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” House Ways and Means Chairman Sander Levin has a secret weapon when faced with tough questions.

Speaking at the National Press Club on Monday, the Michigan Democrat announced he would speak solely about matters that the Ways and Means Committee handles. “If you’d like to ask a question relating to anything other than Ways and Means, I’ll turn on my cell phone and text message my brother.”

That baby brother, of course, is Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich), who knows a little bit about a few hot topics (he chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee).

The elder Levin said he and his brother not only share the title of “Chairman Levin” (he noted that they’re the first brothers since 1881 to chair Congressional committees simultaneously), they have a few brotherly traits in common. Before he removed from his pocket a folded copy of a Washington Post article on economic inequality in Colombia, he mentioned his brother uses the same method for saving news clips.

“We’re so much raised in the same way, we stuff them in our pockets the same way,” he said.

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