John McCaslin

Inside the Beltway rode the U.S. Capitol subway yesterday with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.

"So, is your party going to get a presidential nominee soon?" we inquired of the six-term senator, referring to the escalating slugfest between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"Oremus! Oremus!" Mr. Leahy replied with hopeful enthusiasm.

Which, when translated from Latin to English, means "Let us pray."

Seconds later, as Mr. Leahy rode up the escalator to the Senate elevators, he turned and shouted back something to the effect of "Permissum campana orbis," meaning "Let the bells ring."

Climb down

"As you know, the architect of the Court, Cass Gilbert, designed the Supreme Court's facade in such a way that walking up the 44 steps was dramatically symbolic of approaching the highest court," says our Capitol Hill source.

"I've heard that the Supreme Court is about to close the steps. The plan is that nobody will be allowed to make that awesome climb."

Say it ain't so.

"We've been going through a modernization project for some time, and part of the project is the creation of a visitor entrance to the building," Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg told Inside the Beltway yesterday. "And what that will mean is, when completed, the public will come in on the plaza level ... and the front steps will be used as an exit.

"So the door won't be closed, but the flow of traffic in and out of the building will change. There will be access, but a change in flow." Abe's access

A wiseguy working in the U.S. Capitol Police Identification Branch Office in Room 58 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building stuck a photograph of Abraham Lincoln, with his trademark beard and black stovepipe hat, into an official U.S. Capitol laminated credential that hangs behind his desk.

Pumping Pelosi

"Pelosi Premium" bumper stickers are now being distributed by the Freedom Project to let the Democratic majority in Congress know that Americans can't afford to pay nearly $4 for a gallon of gas.

The project supports Republican efforts to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy and expand production of American energy to create new jobs and grow the economy.

Republican roots

Last time we checked in with House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat had just received the "Barrier Breaker" Award from the NAACP for having attained the highest-ranking position of any black in Congress. That was in March.

Now we read:

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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