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Originally published January 13, 2006 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 13, 2006 at 2:02 PM

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Steve Kelley

D.C. and sports: Thick-skinned and politically incorrect

Beware of flying phlegm. The Washington Redskins are coming to town. The team whose sprinkler system of a safety Sean Taylor, in the spirit...

Seattle Times staff columnist

Beware of flying phlegm. The Washington Redskins are coming to town.

The team whose sprinkler system of a safety Sean Taylor, in the spirit of Leonardo DiCaprio in "Titanic," hawks loogies into the faces of his opponents when words just don't seem to be enough, is coming to Seattle for a playoff date with the Seahawks.

Taylor does more slinging than Sammy Baugh ever did. But who can blame him for using everything in his power to get an advantage? After all, his team comes from the town where rules are meant to be bent.

Washington, D.C., is a corruption theme park. You can ride, for instance, information given to you by a Scooter all the way to jail and then out the door at the New York Times.

And spit? Who cares about a little spit in Washington? This is the city where special prosecutor Kenneth Starr used DNA to impeach Bill Clinton.

This is the town where an intern can bring an administration to its, uh, knees. Where an influence peddler like Jack Abramoff can get you a suite for the next home game. It will only cost your vote in the House of Representatives, and perhaps your soul.

Sports fans don't come any more passionate than Abramoff. He can even get you a tee time in Scotland if you'll just look the other way, please.

The Redskins are coming to town. Redskins? Who named this team, anyway? Strom Thurmond?

This is the team from the town where the truth is an endangered species, where rumors run as wildly as Clinton Portis.

It is rumored, for instance, that former House majority leader, Texas congressman Tom DeLay, is out of control. In an apparent attempt to aid the favorite football team in his home state, he is reapportioning the NFC East to include Dallas, Prairie View A&M, Rice and Baylor.

Politics and sports mesh seamlessly in Washington.

Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott once was a cheerleader at Mississippi where he created the famous chant, "Lean to the right, Lean to the right. Lean to the right. Um, lean to the right."

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This is the city where the country's former director of disaster relief, Mike "Brownie" Brown, once was involved in horse shows. And its resident President, George W. Bush, once owned the Texas Rangers.

And where the latest Supreme Court nominee, Samuel Alito, once vacationed at a Philadelphia Phillies' fantasy camp. During confirmation hearings this week, Alito was visibly shaken when he was asked by Sen. Joe Biden to explain the Phillies' collapse in 1964.

Sports and politics are bedfellows in Washington.

Former Washington coach George Allen once allowed President Richard Nixon to diagram a play for the Super Bowl. Former running back John Riggins once counseled Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, "Come on Sandy baby, loosen up." It might have been the best advice she ever got.

There is, however, no truth to the blog item that, in the spirit of Allen and Nixon, Washington coach Joe Gibbs recently invited White House spinmeister Scott McClellan to Redskins Park this week to lecture the offense on McClellan's favorite topic, misdirection plays.

Teams can't be too cautious when they play Washington.

Worried that the Bush administration's domestic eavesdropping policy is getting out of control, we heard that Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren will have his headsets swept for bugs before Saturday's game.

Word is that Holmgren also has asked his quarterbacks and offensive coordinator Gil Haskell to only speak in French on game day. When asked about the new policy, however, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck shrugged and said, "Je ne sais pas."

Washington is not to be trusted. Everyone there is from somewhere else.

Quarterback Mark Brunell is from the University of Washington. Dick Cheney is from Pluto. Washington's 43-year old tackle Ray Brown is from AARP. Influence peddler Abramoff is from Cellblock 4-K. Gibbs is from NASCAR. And Bush is from Neverland.

But there's really little to fear from this weekend's visitors.

Last week at Tampa Bay, Washington's offense was as nonexistent as Iraq's WMDs. And it was reported on some blogs Thursday that Joe Gibbs received a call from the President.

"Gibbsy," Bush said, "you're doin' a heck of a job."

The kiss of death.

Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176 or skelley@seattletimes.com.

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About Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
skelley@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2176

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