April 8: The day that everyone in Washington got into a fight

On this day, almost 200 years ago, two senators got so upset with each other that they tried to kill each other.

Now, no one got quite that angry on Capitol Hill on Tuesday (more info on that face-off from the Senate Historical Office), but there were tons of verbal -- and social media -- altercations.

Essentially, everybody got into a spat. And while these kinds of clashes over politics, policy and personality aren't exactly rare here in Washington, it's worth running down all of the day's drama in the district.

Secretary of State John F. Kerry vs. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

These two failed presidential candidates must have thought they were in a debate.

When Kerry traveled to the Hill to attend a Senate Foreign Relations hearing on Tuesday morning, Sen. McCain had some tense words with regard to how the Obama administration has handled Vladimir Putin.

McCain lambasted Kerry:

“On the issue of Ukraine, my hero, Teddy Roosevelt, used to say talk softly, but carry a big stick. What you’re doing is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact, a twig.”

Kerry responded:

“I guess it’s pretty easy to lob those judgments around, but particularly well before the verdict is in on any of them.”

And then McCain interrupted. The two men went back and forth several times (check out the full video above) before Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) tried (unsuccessfully) to cut them off.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. vs. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.)

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. spent more than three hours being questioned by 34 members of Congress about a wide variety of national and international issues.

And then it was Louie Gohmert's turn.

While he questioned the attorney general about why he had not been provided Department of Justice documents he had requested, Gohmert brought up the House contempt vote against Holder two years ago.

“I realize that contempt is not a big deal to our attorney general,” Gohmert said. “But it is important that we have proper oversight…”

“You don’t want to go there, buddy,” Holder interrupted, leaning back in his chair. “You don’t want to go there.”

“I don’t want to go there?” Gohmert said. “About the contempt?”

“No,” Holder said, pointing his finger at Gohmert. “You should not assume that that is not a big deal to me. I think it was inappropriate. I think it was unjust. But never think that that was not a big deal to me. Don’t ever think that.”

And that wasn't the end of it. The full exchange is in the video above including this money-line from Holder:

“Good luck with your asparagus."

Politico vs. Sean Eldridge

Last week, Politico reporter Alex Isenstadt went up to New York to write an article about Sean Eldridge, an Upstate New York congressional hopeful.

But, as Isenstadt discussed in a video today, Eldridge, a Democrat, refused to be interviewed.

Asked by a local outlet why he refused to meet with the Politico reporter, Eldridge unloaded:

In response to Politico’s video, Eldridge said “we’re not really concerned with a D.C.-based blog” and that he’s been “concerned with petitioning” over the last few weeks. ... “We haven’t been focused on Politico,” Eldridge said.

"..a D.C.-based blog..."? Shots = fired.

There was exactly zero chance that Politico reporters were going to take that slight lying down.

 

 

 

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) vs. Roll Call on whether he’s smoked weed

Each week, Hoyer holds a "pen and pad" briefing with Capitol Hill reporters. Typically, it includes a lot of talk about budgets, and the Affordable Care Act, and midterm elections, and such.

On Tuesday, Hoyer talked drugs. Specifically: Him, doing drugs.

Hoyer was expressing support for Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s decision to sign legislation decriminalizing recreation marijuana use, and  some took his remarks to mean he thought smoking weed was no big deal — lots of people have done it, he hinted.

“I’m not going to ask for a show of hands. If I did, I could raise my hand,” CQ Roll Call quotes Hoyer as telling reporters, as he raised his hand. “The use thereof, or the trying thereof. Inhaling or not. Experimentation.”

Whoa, dude.

But Hoyer's press shop was quick to push back.

Per Roll Call:

Soon after the session with reporters, Hoyer spokeswoman Stephanie Young told CQ Roll Call her boss was not saying what it sounded like. “Mr. Hoyer has not used marijuana. His point was that this issue affects many people and he believes the Maryland General Assembly took the right step to decriminalize marijuana.”

Three hours after the pen-and-pad briefing, Hoyer’s office issued a statement in his name clarifying what the lawmaker said.

“At today’s press conference, I was unclear when discussing the Maryland General Assembly’s actions on marijuana. To be clear, I have not used marijuana. The point I tried to make was that I wasn’t going to ask for a show of hands of people who haven’t tried marijuana — because if I did, I would probably be one of very few who could raise my hand.

Apparently Steny Hoyer isn't as cool as we (briefly) thought he was.

Jay Carney and the White House Communication Team vs. The White House Press Corps.

It seemed all of Washington spent Tuesday debating whether or not the statistics the White House and prominent Democrats are using in their push for passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act are accurate.

In short, the Democrats have spent countless minutes standing behind microphones declaring that women make 77 percent of what men do for the same jobs. The problem: Economists and fact-checkers say it's not true.

When White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about that during a press briefing in the afternoon by Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, things got testy.

Mason: Outside economists say that the data the president is using, the 77-cent phrase, is wrong. Regardless of the merits of this push, do you have better data?

Carney: That is absolutely not the case. There are some economists who have different views on what it means. But, to say 'economists.' I mean, from Reuters, I would expect something a little more precise...”

Other reporters in the room: Whoa...whoa...

The White House press staff, which was also playing defense Tuesday after questions were raised about a gender pay gap among its own staffers, then seemed to double down.

To which Fox News' Ed Henry - a former president of the White House Correspondents' Association - responded:

Honorable mention: Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) vs. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) over inflation -- and the McDonald's value menu.

More on this one here -- but we will leave you with this chart:

Wesley Lowery covers Capitol Hill for The Fix and Post Politics.
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Chris Cillizza · April 8