Heard on the Hill: LaHood Gushes About His ‘Friend’ Oprah Winfrey

Posted April 27, 2010 at 7:13pm

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has had a tough few weeks following the publication of Kitty Kelley’s unauthorized biography of her, but the talk show diva should take comfort in knowing she has a friend in Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

LaHood appeared Tuesday at a press conference at Union Station alongside Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) and “American Idol” season six winner Jordin Sparks to promote an effort by Allstate Insurance to get teens and their parents to pledge to not text while driving. During his remarks, LaHood noted “our friend Oprah Winfrey” is focusing her talk show on Friday about the dangers of distracted driving.

In fact, part of Friday’s “Oprah” episode will be filmed at the Newseum, where LaHood is scheduled to join Winfrey’s bestie, Gayle King, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier and WJLA anchor Leon Harris to talk about the issue.

“We’re grateful for Oprah,” LaHood said, adding that it’s the second time Winfrey has done a show on distracted driving dangers.

LaHood also thanked Sparks for her support, saying she’s “using her newfound fame to helping her peers understand how important this is.” Sparks and her mother, Jodi, handed out a $25,000 check at the presser on behalf of Allstate to the National Organizations for Youth Safety.

“I’m 20 years old, and I have a cell phone,” Sparks said. “I know it’s a conscious effort not to pick up your cell phone while driving.”

Mike Quigley Misses Goal With This Fundraiser

What the puck? Über-hockey-enthusiast Rep. Mike Quigley is holding a fundraiser during one of the Washington Capitals playoff games — but the invite touting the event bears the logo of another hockey team, that of the Caps’ division rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes. And the fundraising missive even misspelled the home team’s name (Capitols, really?) on second reference.

The invite for tonight’s game seven of the Eastern Conference’s first round at the Verizon Center had a few die-hard Caps fans up in arms (not that it takes much to rile a rabid hockey lover, that is). But the gaffe seemed unlikely, given that the Illinois Democrat’s affinity for the sport is well-documented: He plays frequently, including a game with the stars of the MTV show “The Buried Life,” which recently aired on the cable network.

Quigley called the oopsie a “copy editing error” and used HOH’s query as an excuse to flex his old-school bona fides. “I’m a Blackhawks fan and an Original Six kinda guy,” Quigley tells HOH. “All these expansion teams look the same to me.”

We’ll just call a penalty.

What’s in a Name? A Lot of Pride

The annual ACLI Capital Challenge three-mile footrace is scheduled for this morning (well, for you late risers, it’s probably already happened). And while Members of Congress, staffers, reporters and others vie to run the fastest race they can, there’s another competition at hand: Who has the best team name?

Picking a witty team name is part of the race’s tradition. It’s also about picking something that reflects your team’s personality while also drawing laughs.

HOH notes several Member-led teams picked particularly funny names this year, including “Catch Me if You Can(twell),” the movie-inspired moniker for Sen. Maria Cantwell’s (D-Wash.) team. Then there’s “Jihad Jane,” for the team of Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.); “The Freshman Fifteen (Minutes)” for Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R-Ill.) team; “Don’t Tax Me, Bro!” for the team led by tax-hating Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.); and “The Not-So-Lame Ducks” for the team of retiring Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.).

But HOH’s absolute favorite moniker comes from Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn’s team, the “Star Wars”-inspired, “You’re Our Only Hope, Obi-John Cornobi.”

Cornyn spokesman Charles Chamberlayne tells HOH the name actually comes from a line in a constituent letter, and staffers liked the phrase so much they decided to use it for their official name.

Somewhere, Princess Leia is smiling.

Overheard on the Hill

“My wife and I … think that both Carell and Fey are great actors and love them … but were disappointed the dialogue was a bit dull and it didn’t showcase their talents as first rate actors.”

— Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) reviewing the Steve Carell-Tina Fey headlined movie “Date Night” on his Facebook page.

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