Who says Washington isn’t lively?

Al Kamen
Columnist October 29, 2012

Things sure were looking rough for Rep. Scott DesJarlais for a while, after the revelation of a phone call the Tennessee Republican — an opponent of abortion rights — had with his mistress in which he pressured her to have an abortion. The fallout was so bad, he even had to lie low in Washington for a bit.

But his campaign’s outlook might be sunnier in recent days, now that he’s picked up two important endorsements: one from the National Rifle Association, the other from . . . wait for it . . . a second mistress!

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

The NRA praised DesJarlais for a record of “fighting for your firearms freedom in Congress,” including supporting a bill to allow folks toting concealed weapons to freely cross state lines.

The other endorser was more of a character witness. He’s “the nicest guy,” according another woman who says she had an affair with DesJarlais that began in 2000. How nice was he? Well, he cooked her dinner on their first date, she says. Now that’s the kind of thoughtfulness we need more of in Washington.

The woman told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that DesJarlais was a “regular guy” (that’s every candidate’s dream endorsement), though a bit of “a hound” (spin it as persistence, we say!) who smoked pot. DesJarlais’s campaign did not dispute specifics but said the story wasn’t “credible.”

Still, he’s claiming he’s still a shoo-in for reelection, releasing a poll showing him 13 points ahead of his Democratic challenger. If that’s true, Congress’s pantry will be larded with some real characters, much to the Loop’s delight.

He’ll join former congressman Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who looks to be a sure thing, and — if he can beat back a Democratic challenger — Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) at the top of our list of Loop favorites. Both Floridians are quick with a kooky quote or 10: Grayson likes to hurl the insult “K Street whore,” while West claims that there are about 80 communists serving in Congress.

Who says Washington is dull?

Rock on, envoys!

You won’t read about it in Rolling Stone, but there’s a rockin’ music scene in an unlikely corner of the world: the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

Seems State Department employees there like to blow off steam from stressful jobs by picking up an ax — or a mike. The latest issue of State magazine, the agency’s monthly in-house glossy, profiles a few bands that have sprung up at the post.

There’s the Mission Essential Jazz Band, which performs all the standards and has wowed crowds at events including the embassy’s Spring Fling Ball and July 4th celebration. The ensemble has also entertained at the British and Russian embassies.

Playing more modern tunes are the Spin Boldaks (named after a particularly dangerous town in Kandahar province), an acoustic-guitar band that covered alternative classics and dance grooves, including Madonna’s “Holiday.” Alas, like most great bands, they eventually broke up (the members scattered to different assignments around the globe), but the magazine notes that fans can still see photos on the band’s Facebook page (dig the ironic 1980s getups — leopard pants, skinny ties).

But the current darlings of the Kabul embassy scene are the Backsheesh Boys (the name is a Persian-language riff on the now-defunct boy band the Backstreet Boys), who started out playing mostly Southern rock but whose repertoire now includes classic rock. The band has appeared at hot spots such as the embassy’s old Duck and Cover Bar, the Red Tent (which the magazine describes as “infamous”), the Clamshell at Camp Eggers, and the International Security Assistance Force’s Club 37.

A disaster for disasters

Official Washington scrambled over the weekend and into Monday morning to cancel events and shut down as Hurricane Sandy roared into town.

But some folks — people who know a thing or two about dealing with hurricanes, earthquakes and such — naturally had made storm preparations well in advance.

One of the first cancellation e-mails we got — around lunchtime Friday — came from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, telling us a conference scheduled for Monday evening had been “Postponed Due to Weather.”

And the subject matter of the conference? It was a discussion panel of experts on the role philanthropy can play in helping communities during disasters — and in efforts to rebuild afterward.

Seemed most timely.

“Due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy on travel,” the e-mail said, “CSIS has made the decision to POSTPONE the event ‘Toward More Effective Disaster Philanthropy.’ ”

We were told Monday that the new date will be Dec. 10 or 13.

That should give Pepco, Dominion Virginia and BGE enough time to restore power to everyone.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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