The Pressure on the Hill

And now some fresh pickings from the political grapevine:

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Coping With Colleagues
North Carolina Republican Congressman Cass Ballenger told a local newspaper that he has had his own "segregationist feelings" following conflicts with a black colleague on the Hill. He was talking about the often combative Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney who was defeated in the last election. Ballenger minced no words in expressing how he really felt about McKinney during an interview with the Charlotte Observer, saying, "I mean she was such a bitch." Today Ballanger said his choice of words was "a mistake and was wrong....My intent was to prove that someone can push you so hard that sometimes it  causes you to think and speak in ways you wouldn't otherwise."

Wonderings on War
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington State seems to be somewhat enamored with Usama bin Laden. In an address to high-schoolers, she challenged students to consider alternatives to war. Then, according to The Columbian newspaper, she said of  bin Laden, "We've got to ask why is this man so popular around the world?  He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure ...and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that."

Capitol Cable
Up on Capitol Hill each morning on the internal cable system, they usually replay the previous night's network newscasts. But imagine the surprise when some sleepy-eyed staffers turned on the tube recently to get their daily replay of Dan, Peter and Tom -- and instead found naked bodies. Turns out an employee of the Senate Recording Studio had been dubbing a porn tape on taxpayer time, and apparently pushed the wrong button. It was turned off within a few minutes -- the employee has been suspended pending an investigation.

Change of Custom?
Ever since 9/11, the Customs Department has occasionally been accused of being less than vigilant. But they were on the job recently when they stopped Californian Robert Cusack. They opened his luggage and an exotic bird flew out. Turns out he had three more rare birds in the suitcase. The Customs agents asked him if he anything else to declare and he said, "Yes, I've got monkeys in my pants." Sure enough, agents recovered two pygmy monkeys from his drawers -- Cusack is serving 57 days on smuggling charges.