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Laura Vozzella: Lawmaker whipped by a Twitter prank

Political parody by way of fake Twitter account? That's so 2009.

Now, instead of skewering pols with the likes of @FakeOmalley and @StephanieRawlingsFake, someone has found a way to use the real thing: @LeaderHoyer.

During Wednesday's State of the Union address, Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland seemed to issue some startling tweets.

"This AZ thing is working out for us very well," read one tweet attributed to the House's No. 2 Dem and captured by blogger Steve Lunceford. "Look how Republicans fell for this bi-partisan seating crap."

"He is going to veto bills with Earmarks?" Hoyer seemed to ask in another tweet. "Load of Bull! He promised this a year or two ago. Whatever. At least the fool McCain is happy."

The Twitter account @LeaderHoyer really was Hoyer's when the Democrats controlled the House. When the GOP took over this month, Hoyer went from majority leader to minority whip, so a new Twitter account was in order: @WhipHoyer. He abandoned @LeaderHoyer, and some wiseacre picked it up, though Hoyer's official homepage continued to link to it until his office was alerted to the spoof tweets.

Hoyer spokeswoman Katie Grant put her best spin on the prank.

"Just goes to show that Steny Hoyer has made it big on Twitter," she said. "They say impersonation is the best form of flattery."

Electrifying

Fans of "Top Chef" will recall how Michael Voltaggio not only defeated big brother Bryan in Season 6 of the reality TV show but bagged a Prius along the way.

Now Bryan seems to have bested his brother in the car department.

Instead of a recall-prone Toyota, Bryan is driving nearly gasoline-free in a Chevy Volt. Adding to the fraternal nyah-nyah factor: The car is extra cool for Bryan because it shares the name of his Frederick restaurant.

Bryan is one of 15 people across the country who have been test-driving the Volt for several months. They don't get to keep the cars, but they've had advance experience with what is expected to be one of the hottest new vehicles in a long time.

Most of the people on GM's "customer advisory board" are electric-vehicle enthusiasts. Bill Nye, "The Science Guy," is among them. So is Jim Woolsey, the former director of central intelligence, who has turned his attention to renewable energy and energy security.

And then there's Voltaggio. While the chef is certainly a gadget guy — he's known for high-tech molecular gastronomy — he was an EV newbie when Chevy approached him.

"They came to me because of the name of the restaurant," he said.

Now winding up their three- and four-month stints with the Volt, the test drivers have been discussing the car's performance on weekly conference calls. The EV eggheads would raise questions on, say, the finer points of regenerative braking. The chef?

"I'd say, 'My iPod playlist hasn't been coming up quickly enough.'"

In Voltaggio's case, the car seems to have reformed a self-described "lead foot," who long prided himself on being "the first one to pull away from the [stop]light." Now Bryan pays attention to the floating ball on the driver efficiency gauge. If he's driving efficiently, the ball is green. If he accelerates hard or stops short, it turns yellow.

"It's almost like playing a game," he said. "You try to see how much you get out of the car."

The chef got about 50 miles per charge before the weather turned frigid. Now that he's using the heater, it's more like 35 to 38 miles per charge. He plugs the car in at home and at the restaurant and uses hardly any gas. If he used it only to go to the restaurant and back — his commute is about 10 miles each way — "I wouldn't have to put gas in it ever," he said.

Bryan is buying a Volt when the test concludes. It's due to arrive Feb. 7.

And what does Michael think of all this?

"He Twittered a little bit of jealously at some point," Bryan said. "He asked where his Volt was."

Connect the dots …

Something softened the blow for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake when she had to make good on a football bet with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl last week. The mayor had to send Ravenstahl a platter of Faidley's crab cakes, and she was going to pick up the tab herself. But Bill Devine of Faidley's declared the cakes on the house. Devine even upgraded the order to 12 top-of-the-line jumbo lump cakes, worth $165, plus shipping. Rawlings-Blake was content to send backfin to Steelers country, but Devine wanted all jumbo lump. "I wouldn't send them anything else," he told me. "Ruin our reputation." … Baltimore City State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein can't make good on his improved-technology promises quickly enough for some. The Sun's Tricia Bishop tells me that in court last week, Maryland Circuit Judge Lynn K. Stewart huffily passed along a message to Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Rallo, telling her to call Victims Services. The judge added that her chamber is not a message service. "What happened to those BlackBerries you all were supposed to be getting?" Stewart asked. "Cell phones and stuff?"

laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

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