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Steak-dinner wager paid off, O’Reilly has no ‘beef’ with guv

It had to have been a humbling moment for outgoing Gov. Ed Rendell .

Rendell appeared on Fox talking head Bill O’Reilly ‘s show Wednesday to pay off a bet he lost on the gubernatorial race. Last month, O’Reilly bet Rendell a steak dinner that Republican Tom Corbett would defeat Rendell’s handpicked successor, Democrat Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato .

We know how that turned out. Corbett put a whole heap o’ hurt on Onorato.

So Rendell returned to “The O’Reilly Factor” and held up an oversized $100 gift card to the Capital Grille steakhouse chain.

O’Reilly didn’t just accept his winnings. He told Rendell that the governor would have to have dinner with him as part of the payoff.

“I’m going to walk around the restaurant with you six times so everyone sees us,” he warned.

O’Reilly then complimented Rendell for not welching.

“I thought I might have to waterboard you to get you to pay off the bet,” he said.

CRANMER’S NEW ROLE: EX-MAYOR’S APOLOGIST. A Texas newspaper seems an odd place for two washed-up Western Pennsylvania politicians to surface.

But less than a week after the Daily News of Galveston ran a story on former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy ‘s tiff with a Galveston council member, Murphy received an op-ed page hug from former Allegheny County Commissioner Bob Cranmer .

You may recall reading in this space last week that Murphy was invited by Galveston’s mayor to advise that city’s council on redevelopment issues. The prickly Murphy unsurprisingly ended up clashing with a council member who rightfully questioned his qualifications to offer such advice.

Acting as Murphy’s apologist in his op-ed piece, Cranmer tacitly acknowledged that Pittsburgh ended up in state receivership on Murphy’s watch. But according to Cranmer, that was OK.

“Admittedly, Tom Murphy did leave (the city) in a financial crisis, but he forced that crisis to expose the endemic problems of the city’s cost-tax structure,” Cranmer wrote. “Decades in the making, he forced the city government down a path of fiscal stability.”

Cranmer apparently missed last week’s stories in his hometown newspapers in which Mayor Luke Ravenstahl told City Council that Pittsburgh is on the precipice of a “financial nightmare.”

“A path of fiscal stability”• In your dreams, Mr. Cranmer.

BRAD BACK• One name that has surfaced as a potential member of Gov.-elect Tom Corbett ‘s administration is Brad Mallory .

Currently CEO of Michael Baker Corp. in Moon, Mallory served as state Transportation secretary under former governors Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker . He has been with Baker since 2003.

It’s unclear whether Mallory might return to his former position in a Corbett regime or assume some other prominent role. But incumbent Transportation Secretary Allen Biehler won’t be retained when the governor’s office flips from Democrat to Republican control.

Lending credence to the speculation surrounding Mallory is the fact that Leslie Gromis-Baker , Ridge’s former political director, was named Wednesday to Corbett’s transition team. Stands to reason that she might attempt to reassemble much of the former Ridge roster.

TOOMEY GOES TRAPPING. Republican Sen.-elect Pat Toomey hasn’t even taken office yet, but he already has one significant accomplishment under his belt.

He somehow lured Pennsylvania’s other senator out of hiding.

On Wednesday, Toomey lunched in Scranton with seldom-seen Sen. Bob Casey , D-Under the Radar. The pair later issued a joint statement saying they looked forward to working together on a broad range of issues affecting Pennsylvania.

Details of where they dined, what they ate and what they discussed weren’t offered. Nor did Toomey disclose what bait he used to lure the incredibly reticent Casey to appear in public, although unconfirmed reports indicated pine nuts were spotted near the restaurant entrance.

WHAT’S NEXT, ARGYLE ALERTS• We’re certainly fans of the White House providing full disclosure of President Barack Obama ‘s activities.

But we question the necessity of this update issued last week on the president’s trip to Jakarta: “(We) ask to amend the print pool report to say the president wore dark socks during the mosque tour.”

This detail went largely unreported by the major TV networks. Perhaps they were waiting for an update on whether the commander-in-chief’s undershirt was a V-neck.

UNTOLD STORIES. Back in 2003, when the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha was promoting his book about U.S. foreign policy — “From Vietnam to 9/11: On the Front Lines of National Security” — he mentioned that he was thinking about writing a book that would lay bare the ins and outs of Congress.

Nobody was better positioned than Murtha to do the job. As the longtime chairman of the House subcommittee on military appropriations and a champion of the earmark, he was the consummate insider.

Legend has it that the Johnstown Democrat ran what amounted to a school for congressmen from his informally recognized seat on the House floor, known as “Murtha’s Corner.”

Rep. Bill Shuster , a Blair County Republican, once told a reporter that his father, Bud Shuster , himself a congressional insider of some repute, advised him when he first came to Congress in 2001 to watch and learn from master deal-maker Murtha.

If all that John Murtha knew about Congress had been poured into a book, it would have made for quite a tutorial. But it’s not to be.

The congressman’s widow, Joyce Murtha , said her husband never got around to writing the book that fairly glittered with promise.

“He kept notes on Congress going all the way but he was just so busy with other things,” she said after a ceremony announcing that a statue of her husband would go up next to the Cambria County War Memorial in Johnstown.

Besides, she said with a chuckle, “He said some people would have to die first before he could write a real book about Congress.”

To contribute to the Murtha statue fund, make checks payable to Community Fund of the Alleghenies, 116 Market St., Johnstown, PA 15901. Note on your check that the contribution is for the John P. Murtha Memorial Statue.

NOT SURE. Speaking of Murtha, his successor, Democrat U.S. Rep. Mark Critz , is not yet sure where he stands on the leadership role that outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should have in the new Congress.

Critz indicated he was wary about voting to return Pelosi to power.

“When you take a drumming like we did, losing 60 or so seats, the management team usually goes,” Critz said, referring to Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Whip James Clyburn . All three are in the running for leadership posts in the new Congress starting in January.

BITE YOUR TONGUE . Greensburg Mayor Karl Eisaman had to step in recently when Councilman Emil Peterinelli vociferously criticized Republican Councilwoman Kathleen McCormick over her views on a proposed $6 million visual arts center for Seton Hill University that would be partially funded by the state.

Council backed the project by a 4-1 vote. McCormick, a Belle Vernon schoolteacher, lamented that the state shouldn’t be promising millions to help fund such proposals when it is in such poor financial condition.

“The … money is borrowed money that the governor ( Ed Rendell ) distributed at will and is paid for by taxpayers,” McCormick said.

Peterinelli complained by reminding McCormick she is a teacher. Some think more school teachers such as McCormick are needed on public boards.

Eisaman, a Democrat, attempted to calm the tempestuous Peterinelli, also a Democrat, by reminding the 77-year-old councilman that opposing views are permitted in a democracy.

— compiled by Tribune-Review staff

Have some dirt to dish• A tip to flip• E-mail the intrepid Whispers desk at: [email protected]


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