“Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), a leading advocate of shrinking entitlement spending and the architect of the plan to privatize Medicare, spent Tuesday evening sipping $350 wine with two like-minded conservative economists at the swanky Capitol Hill eatery Bistro Bis…

“Susan Feinberg, an associate business professor at Rutgers, was at Bistro Bis celebrating her birthday with her husband that night. When she saw the label on the bottle of Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echezeaux Grand Cru Ryan’s table had ordered, she quickly looked it up on the wine list and saw that it sold for an eye-popping $350, the most expensive wine in the house along with one other with the same pricetag…

“She was outraged that Ryan was consuming hundreds of dollars in wine while Congress was in the midst of intense debates over whether to cut seniors’ safety net, and she didn’t know whether Ryan or his companions was going to pay for the wine and whether the two men were lobbyists. She snapped a few shots with her cell phone to record the wine purchase…

“When asked more directly whether he thought it was appropriate to be ordering $350 wine while pushing for cuts to benefits for seniors and the poor, Ryan conceded that it’s ‘stupid’ to pay that much for a bottle of wine and said he wouldn’t do so again.”

***
“Remember John Edwards’s $400 haircut? That turned out to be quite a problem for him. It looks like Paul Ryan is about have a similar problem on his hands. According to this astounding article (with pictures) at Talking Points Memo, Ryan — the leader of the tighten-your-belt, fiscal-austerity crowd — is in the habit of drinking $350-a-bottle wine, specifically Jayer-Gilles 2004 Echezeaux Grand Cru. In fact, Ryan enjoyed two bottles of this fancy Pinor Noir while dining the other night with a pair of conservative economists at Bistro Bis, the swanky Capitol Hill restaurant favored by lobbyists and other expense-account barons…

“If there’s any justice in the world, Ryan ought to get at least as much grief for this as Edwards got. And if I were President Obama’s adviser, I’d suggest that he add $350 wine to that line about Republicans defending corporate jets and hedge-fund fat cats.”

***
“This is the kind of story that the political media eats up, like the time John McCain couldn’t remember how many houses he owned while he was calling then-Sen. Barack Obama an elitist, or all of those eco-conscious celebrities who fly around on fossil fuel-guzzling private jets. Fair enough, Ryan was drinking some pretty expensive wine.

“However, Washington, DC is just an expensive place to eat, period. That’s why, unless I’m mooching off of a more well-heeled colleague, or there’s an open bar, you’ll always see me nursing a light beer and scarfing bar nuts. If I saw Paul Ryan, or any other legislator, at a place like Bistro Bis with an Amstel Light in hand, I’d probably sneer, ‘Poseur!’

“Be that as it may, I think we all have the right to eat dinner without being annoyed by some other patron of the same upscale restaurant (the federal minimum wage won’t even get you a plate of fries at Bistro Bis) who thinks we’re spending too much on dinner.”

***
“[TPM’s Susan] Crabtree felt the need to go to DEFCON 1 for this outrage that a member of Congress and his two economist friends would buy expensive wine with their own money. She’s never, ever written horribly about Barack Obama using taxpayer money for fancy wine at State Dinners. She’s never written salaciously about the liquor bills on Nancy Pelosi’s government funded plane.

“But by God you get some failed Rutgers economist out on a birthday date with her husband at a hotel restaurant who gets all jealous that she’s not cool enough to hang out with Little Eddie Munster and his econ pals and . . . well . . . fire up the broom stick and quill pen, we’ve got a hot story and a little scandal on our hands. Rita Skeeter’s unavailable so lets get Susan Crabtree!

“If only Paul Ryan had used your tax dollars, Crabtree, instead of getting crabby, would have probably spent those 1,276 words of outraged jealousy extolling the virtues of government spending creating jobs for even lowly sommeliers.”