10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Press-Enterprise

Rep. Darrell Issa’s crusade to hold the Obama administration accountable from his perch as top Republican on the House Oversight Committee has earned him a flurry of newspaper articles dubbing him the president’s “annoyer-in-chief.”

The White House has declined to comment for the articles. But, as Issa told a New York Times reporter in recent days, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel weighed in himself when the two crossed paths outside the House gym on Capitol Hill.

In the story written by Mark Leibovich, Issa said Emanuel (who is renowned for his penchant for profanity) extended his middle finger in Issa’s direction, a gesture Issa took as validation for his relentless criticism of the administration.

Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella attested to his boss’s recounting of the exchange, but Emanuel, through a White House spokesman, said the incident never took place.

Issa, R-Vista, represents much of southwestern Riverside County and part of northern San Diego County.

What’s in a name?

Democrat Bill Hedrick’s campaign manager got a phone call last week from a pollster who she suspects was trying to help Rep. Ken Calvert.

Hedrick for the second time is challenging Calvert, R-Corona, in the November election.

Hedrick campaign manager Katie Mantz said the pollster repeatedly mispronounced Hedrick’s name, inserting an N and saying Hendrick.

Mantz said she didn’t recall how the pollster identified himself. But she said she suspects the poll was done on behalf of Calvert.

The pollster asked questions about how Mantz felt about the real estate industry and whether being in the business would change how she planned to vote, Mantz said.

Calvert is a commercial real estate broker.

“You would think they would get the name of the opponent correct,” Mantz said. “It was the comedy of errors.”

But while the Hedrick campaign may be getting a laugh, Calvert could be laughing all the way to the bank. From April 1 through June 30, Calvert raised $232,750 in campaign cash to Hedrick’s $104,091.

The buck stops here

Financially ailing Arrowhead Credit Union has pulled the plug on its participation in this summer’s payroll assistance program for legislative employees who aren’t getting paid because of the lack of a state budget.

During past budget impasses, the San Bernardino-based credit union and several other financial institutions have agreed to front the salaries of customers who work for the state Senate or Assembly and have direct deposit.

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