In 1920, the story goes, movers and shakers at the Republican National Convention had a private meeting in a room on the eighth floor of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago to choose Warren G. Harding as the party's nominee. As the meeting ended and the men came drifting out of the room, so did a cloud of cigar smoke. The Associated Press dispatch said this: "Harding of Ohio was chosen by a group of men in a smoke-filled room." Thus was a political cliche born.
Guess we'll have to get a new one now. House Mommy Nancy Pelosi has banned smoking inside the House. That makes smoking outlawed just about everywhere in Washington -- except in House members' own offices. Wouldn't want them to have to go too far in following the same rules everyone else must obey.
Henry Waxman displayed a sense of humor about the whole think I wasn't aware he had:
Now, Mr. Waxman was asked, could he eliminate the phrase “smoke-filled room”?
“I don't have the power to do that,” he replied. “I only have the power to investigate clichés.”