Capitol Hillbillies

Kiss and tell and cash in

Hustler magazine is looking for some scandalous sex in Washington again — and willing to pay for it.

"Have you had a sexual encounter with a current member of the United States Congress or a high-ranking government official?" read a full-page advertisement taken out by Larry Flynt's pornographic magazine in Sunday's Washington Post.

Democrats hide pork barrel from public

After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress' pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.

Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify "earmarks" — lawmakers' requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.

Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them.

Capitol sex blogger files for bankruptcy

Jessica Cutler, the former Senate aide whose online sex diary landed her a book deal and a Playboy photo spread but got her kicked off Capitol Hill, has filed for bankruptcy.

Cutler, an aide to then-Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, created the "Washingtonienne" blog in 2004 and began posting racy details about her sex life with six men, including a Senate colleague and "a few generous older gentlemen" who she said paid many of her living expenses.

When the blog was discovered, Cutler was fired. She moved to New York, wrote a novel based on the scandal, posed naked and started a new Web site that describes her as "a published author who jumps out of cakes for money."

Hillary’s double standard on use of plane

Senator and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton trotted out the vague and loose rules of the Senate and Federal Election Commission Wednesday as a rationalization for accepting rides on a private jet from a fatcat contributor.

"Whatever I've done, I complied with Senate rules at the time. That's the way every senator operates," Clinton claimed in an interview with Associated Press reporter Kathleen Hennessey.

Clinton, however, refused to discuss whether the rules are too lax.

"Those were the rules. You'll have to ask somebody else whether that's good policy," she said.

Democrats did the right thing

To those who see the world through a partisan prism, last week's congressional vote to continue funding American troops in Iraq looks like a loss for Democrats. On the contrary: Those Democrats who refused to legislate an American military defeat — despite intense pressure from a well-financed, well-organized campaign on the left — deserve great credit.

Kyl’s immigration hot seat

Hard-liners in the immigration debate stood behind Sen. Jon Kyl for his tough stance on immigration last year, while undocumented immigrants thrashed a pinata bearing his image.

Now the Arizona Republican's surprise support for a bipartisan Senate bill seeking to legalize some 12 million illegal immigrants and create a guest-worker program has bewildered friends and foes alike in the desert state.

The measure, which would tie tough border security and workplace enforcement measures to a guest-worker program and a plan to offer the millions of illegal immigrants a path to legal status, is under fire from the right and the left.

Conservatives argue that it will give amnesty to people who broke U.S. laws, while unions say the temporary worker program will create an underclass of cheaper laborers.

Dems pledge increased pressure on Bush

President Bush (AP Photo)Even as Pentagon planners search for ways to shift the Iraq mission from combat to support with fewer U.S. troops, Democrats plan to raise their pressure on President Bush to end U.S. involvement in the unpopular war.

Bush signed a war spending bill late Friday that does not set a date for U.S. troop withdrawals. It was a defeat for Democrats who want the president to start pulling troops out of Iraq — an idea roundly rejected by administration officials.

War of words heats up over Iraq

Senators John McCain & Barack Obama (AFP)In a fiery preview of a possible 2008 election match-up, US Senators Barack Obama and John McCain traded political potshots over Iraq Friday, and Hillary Clinton also faced a Republican barrage.

A day after the US Congress sent President George W. Bush a new 100 billion dollar war budget, stripped of Democratic troop withdrawal dates, raw emotions over the war spiced up the already simmering 2008 White House race.

Republican candidate McCain complained that Senate votes by Democrats Clinton and Obama against the mammoth funding measure Thursday night were tantamount to "waving a white flag to Al-Qaeda."

Obama, Hillary vote against war funding

Sen. Barack Obama (AP)Courting the anti-war constituency, Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama both voted against legislation that pays for the Iraq war but lacks a timeline for troop withdrawal.

"I fully support our troops" but the measure "fails to compel the president to give our troops a new strategy in Iraq," said Clinton, a New York senator.

"Enough is enough," Obama, an Illinois senator, declared, adding that President Bush should not get "a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path."

Their votes Thursday night continued a shift in position for the two presidential hopefuls, both of whom began the year shunning a deadline for a troop withdrawal.

Dems offer spin to explain loss to Bush

Sen. Hillary Clinton (AP)Democrats may have lost the first round with President Bush on ending the war in Iraq since taking over Congress in January, but they say their fight has just begun.

In the months ahead, lawmakers will vote repeatedly on whether U.S. troops should stay and whether Bush has the authority to continue the war. The Democratic strategy is intended to ratchet up pressure on the president, as well as on moderate Republicans who have grown tired of defending Bush administration policy in a deeply unpopular war.

"I feel a direction change in the air," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., chairman of the House panel that oversees military funding.