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GREEN & GLOVER: Norquist vs. Whitford

- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, isn't taking being picked on by a Hollywood actor lying down.

Last week, Bradley Whitford, who played White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on the long-running NBC drama "The West Wing" (1999-2006), was on Capitol Hill along with series star Martin Sheen to lobby for union-backed "card check" legislation. In a jab at the conservative activist, the actor gibed, "There will never be a Grover Norquist Day," alluding to March 31 being labor icon Cesar Chavez's birthday.

"Sadly, I've never seen the show. What channel is it on?" Mr. Norquist asked when reached for comment by your inquiring correspondents.

Mr. Norquist's tastes apparently are more attuned to filmed entertainment of the animated variety.

"This whole thing reminds me of the film 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'" Mr. Norquist said about Mr. Whitford's remark. "In the movie, the cartoon characters go around hitting the real-life characters and then disappearing into Never Never Land."

Spring flings

Back in "1978 … or was it '79?" Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, was just another spring breaker on his way to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with some college buddies to sample as "many of the tackiest fast-food restaurants we could find," he told us.

Pressed for more details by your tenacious lady spies, Mr. Warner, former governor and ever the Virginia gentleman, demurred: "Everything else is nothing a sitting U.S. senator should acknowledge."

"I won't be able to top that one," said Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, when told of his Virginia colleague's story. "I was always working during my spring breaks in college."

What happens in Key West stays in Key West for Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat. He told us he has some great memories of Hemingway's bar down there.

But if you're the sort of person who actually remembers what you did in Key West … are you the sort of person who should bother visiting Key West?

There's no reason the boys should have all the fun. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, and Rep. Doris Matsui, California Democrat, huddled together and told us with girlish glee about their spring flings.

Mrs. Stabenow said she piled into a convertible with friends for a trip to the many lakes in Michigan.

As a student at the University of California at Berkeley, Mrs. Matsui reminisced, she would head to Southern California in search of the perfect "Gidget beach."

Rep. Eric Massa, New York Democrat, recalled that as a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, he "was busy rowing in the icy Annapolis waters, while all my nonmilitary friends were in Cancun getting tanned."

"Among other things," quipped his legislative director, Ronald Hikel.

Speaking of icy, Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, said his best spring breaks were always spent skiing until he fell and had a head injury similar to the one that befell actress Natasha Richardson.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Georgia Republican, said he likes to get away to Maui to golf with his wife, Calista. He said he did not take up golf until "after I left the speakership" and credited his bride with improving his swing. "She's a way better golfer," he reported, "but she's been golfing since she was nine."

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rhode Island Democrat, true to his New England roots, said he's eagerly awaiting the start of sailing season in his home district. An avid sailor with his own yacht, the congressman was quick to point out that his ship was made in little Rhody and will come out of hibernation in late May.

Aiding their own

A few brave members of the Washington media scene brought their dry humor to the stage Friday for the National Press Club's Commedia dell Media, a fundraiser for Reporters Without Borders for Press Freedom, a nonprofit that defends journalists who are mistreated and tortured.

The stand-up performances ranged from groan-worthy to side-splitting. The lineup included Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn, who said his job was to lower expectations; U.S. News & World Report Pentagon correspondent Anna Mulrine, who joked about the comfort of lattes on tours embedded in Iraq; Brit Shaun Waterman; the McClatchy Co.'s Nancy Youssef; and Bloomberg's Scott Lanman.

Matthew Cooper of Conde Nast Portfolio closed the evening with a performance that brought the house down. In a nod to the tough times for media professionals, he shared some advice: "We're journalists, we're all in trouble. Here's the way I see it: Everybody needs to stay on their game. Don't tick off your boss, just keep doing your job. … Obviously, though, you do want to have some sort of backup plan in mind. For instance, Chris Matthews is thinking of teaching yoga. There's been some talk that David Broder's been selling crack. You want to have some endgame n mind. You want to be able to go out with your head held high."

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover with a tip or to request event coverage, please e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.