Up Politics Creek With a Paddle
Don't laugh, but a loaner training kayak in the pool of the House of Representatives gym made the difference in President Bush's House victory for a pork-busting line-item veto. "That's spot on," says Colorado Rep. Mark Udall, who helped talk 34 other Democrats into backing the measure 247 to 172. It now faces Senate action. Say outdoor enthusiasts Udall and former Rep. Rob Portman, now Bush's budget director: It was their passion for kayaking and Portman's loaner to the gym that led to their friendship and eventual pairing to seek passage of the line-item veto. "It's an icebreaker," Republican Portman says of kayaking, "something you can talk about."
And more. Both say that practicing together in the House pool built a trust uncommon in politics. "You can develop relationships through that," says Portman, a former Ohio lawmaker. "I trust Mark, he trusts me, because we've gotten to know each other through the outdoors," adds Portman, who's kayaked thousands of miles since he built his first boat out of fiberglass in college. "It's a shared experience of what it takes to stay calm, not overreacting," says Udall, who says: "It applies in the human world, too." If only Portman could find a kayaking senator to help there. Ironically, the duo has never really paddled anywhere together. "We talk about it a lot," says Portman. "That's more fun than going on the trip."
Animal House in the West Wing
He loves to cuss, gets a jolly when a mountain biker wipes out trying to keep up with him, and now we're learning that the first frat boy loves flatulence jokes. A top insider let that slip when explaining why President Bush is paranoid around women, always worried about his behavior. But he's still a funny, earthy guy who, for example, can't get enough of fart jokes. He's also known to cut a few for laughs, especially when greeting new young aides, but forget about getting people to gas about that.
Spy Mom's Sale: Discount Tights
She might be the most famous ex-spy in America, but Valerie Plame is still a mom stuck with mommy duties. Like taking her daughter to ballet and trying to sell off the cute dancing ensemble that doesn't fit anymore. We know because her ad showed up on the DC Urban Moms site last week offering a complete outfit in "soft lemon yellow" from the exclusive "Ballet Petite" school in her neighborhood. It includes a size 5/6 Repetto bodysuit, matching chiffon yellow tie-shirt, kids size 12 pink ballet shoes, and white leotards. "All in excellent condition! If bought separately, would easily cost $75; selling for $45." Naturally, when we contacted her she was a bit cautious, having just sued the veep and others for blowing her cover in the Iraq weapons case. She did, however, stay on focus. "I guess my only comment is: Do you want to buy the Ballet Petite outfit or know someone who does?" she E-mails. "My 6-year-old daughter has outgrown it."