Heard on the Hill: Christine Who?

Posted September 24, 2010 at 6:03pm

Christine O’Donnell isn’t the only politician these days afraid of the national media.

Sen. Al Franken shared the spotlight with O’Donnell back in 1997 when both were panelists on Bill Maher’s late-night show “Politically Incorrect.” But when a Roll Call reporter asked the Minnesota Democrat last week if he remembered the appearance, he begged off the question, saying he generally only talks to Minnesota press.

Guess he didn’t want to share his thoughts on witchcraft …

Congress Goes To Carmine’s

It seems that Carmine’s, the newly opened Italian restaurant, is the hot place for elected officials these days. A spy tells HOH that the Penn Quarter eatery and its nine private dining rooms have played host to at least a half-dozen Members in the past week.

The restaurant began Thursday with a breakfast for Democratic Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.) and ended the day by serving dinner to several Members from both sides of the aisle. Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and Steven Rothman (D-N.J.) dined together at one table, while Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) hung out at the bar with his staff. Ryan even popped over to say hello to his colleagues.

“I mean, you could have had a quorum in there,” our spy jokes.

On Tuesday night, Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and John Thune (S.D.) were spotted in one private dining room, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was in another. Republican Reps. Bill Posey (Fla.) and Jo Ann Emerson (Mo.) were also seen patronizing Carmine’s.

“Anybody lobbying Congress these days ought to just hang out at the bar there,” our spy says.

He Said It First

As much as things change, political rhetoric stays the same.

When President Barack Obama spoke before the Congressional Black Caucus conference on Sept. 18, he compared the upcoming midterm elections to driving, asking the crowd: “If you want your car to go forward, what do you do? You put it in ‘D.’ You want to go backwards, what do you do?”

In the days following Obama’s speech, it seemed every Democrat and his mom uttered the trendy catchphrase. But an HOH tipster points out it isn’t really new; Sen. Tom Harkin used it back at the 2000 Democratic National Convention to convince
voters to vote for then-Vice President Al Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.). Side note: Remember when Lieberman was a Democrat?

“All you ever needed to know about this election, you’ve learned from driving,” the Iowa Democrat said. “If you want to go backward, you put it in ‘R.’ But if you want to go forward, you put it in ‘D.’ Let’s put this country in ‘D’ — forward with Al Gore and Joe Lieberman.”

Although it appears Obama totally stole Harkin’s jargon, the Senator doesn’t seem to mind. “It’s been 10 years since Sen. Harkin made the analogy, but it holds up: R still stands for ‘reverse,'” a Harkin spokeswoman says.

Behind the Wheel

Some Members of Congress ride around town in black SUVs driven by their staffers.

But not Rep. Shelley Berkley.

A spy spotted the Nevada Democrat driving a black Smart car near the Firehook Bakery and Coffee House on Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast on Wednesday evening.

Berkley seemed comfy in the teeny tiny auto, our spy reports, noting that the Silver State native had posted a Las Vegas bumper sticker on the back of the car.

No word on when Berkley acquired the vehicle; a spokesman didn’t return our request for comment by press time.

Another tipster eyed retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan being trailed by a camera crew on Capitol Hill on Thursday afternoon.

But don’t worry, the North Dakota Democrat isn’t going Hollywood — his office tells HOH that Dorgan was being followed by a crew from a local public television station working on a day-in-the-life segment set to air in January after he leaves office.

Overheard on the Hill

“Please note that HAIR contains very adult content.”

— A cautionary line included in information released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for an Oct. 26 fundraiser for Rep. Jim Moran (Va.) taking place at the opening night of “HAIR.” The musical, of course, features a nude scene.

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