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It’s a Small World

HOH knows what you’re thinking: “I really love this ‘astronaut love triangle’ story. But how does this affect my life? Where’s the Congressional angle?”

Look no further — your wish is HOH’s command.

It turns out that Lisa Nowak — the astronaut who has been charged with trying to murder a woman she saw as her competitor for the affections of another astronaut — flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery in July 2006 with none other than Mark Kelly, who is now the fiance of freshman Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).[IMGCAP(1)]

Unfortunately, Giffords’ office declined to comment on her admittedly tangential connection to the tabloidy scandal. But HOH was able to find another good source, which he shall call “the Internet.”

Kelly was the pilot of that Discovery mission, while Nowak served as a mission flight engineer and controlled the shuttle’s robotic arm on several occasions. It is not clear whether the two were friends beyond that mission, though the astronaut program is apparently fairly small and both Kelly and Nowak were selected by NASA to be astronauts in the same year, 1996, after successful careers as Navy test pilots.

Now, Kelly is getting ready to marry the first-term lawmaker Giffords, while Nowak has been charged with attempted kidnapping, attempted first-degree murder and other crimes.

HOH would like an excuse to keep writing about this story — specifically, he would like to keep being able to reference the “astronaut love triangle.” So please send in any more Congressional connections he may not have considered.

On His Own. John Feehery might have a tougher time snagging an invite to the Feb. 25 Academy Awards than in recent years.

The one-time press secretary to then-Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has ditched the spotlight of the movie industry in exchange for his own business.

Feehery, who was a spokesman and lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America, said he is starting John Feehery Consulting as a solo operation and will add the MPAA as a client.

No word yet on why he’s leaving other than: “For a Republican like me, there’s going to be a lot of desire to come up with some effective PR strategies to make sure the business community is protected,” Feehery said.

In an e-mail to colleagues around town, Feehery said his new venture will be a mix of strategic counseling, lobbying and public relations.

Perhaps MPAA has an opening for a Democrat now?

The Glass Is Half Full. Indiana lawmakers had a grand old time on the House floor Wednesday, parading into the chamber one by one to extol the virtues of the Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts, the courageous Peyton Manning … the groundbreaking Tony Dungy … blah blah.

But one member of the Hoosier State delegation — Rep. Julia Carson (D) — had a slightly more original take on the meaning of the victory.

“I come today to congratulate the Indianapolis Colts who [are] in my district,” Carson said. “See, we have good things in my district. They are not all drive-by shootings.”

It had not occurred to HOH to use the Colts’ win to balance out the negative impact of murders in Indianapolis, but that is what Carson meant.

“It was an off-the-cuff comment,” explained Carson spokesman Chad Chitwood, “and what she was referring to is that there was a record number of homicides last year in the city and there was a lot of media attention about that.”

Chitwood said Carson simply was pleased that people would now think of Indianapolis as the home of the Super Bowl champions rather than as the home of drive-by shootings (which HOH had never done before, but might now).

Oh Nelly. One of the beauties of modern technology is that people now have more and more ways to express themselves. Newfangled cell phones, for instance, let the owners download exactly the right song to serve as their ring tone and let the people around them know what they like to hear.

So an HOH tipster was a little surprised earlier this week to be walking near Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and hear the Homeland Security chairman’s celly blowin’ up to the sounds of Nelly.

Specifically, King’s phone was playing the tune from “Hot in Herre,” the rapper’s very sexy (and very four-years-ago) ode to da club.

Does this mean that King is a big Nelly fan? Or, perhaps, that he would like you to take off all your clothes? Unfortunately, no.

“This is one of the standard Verizon rings,” said King spokesman Kevin Fogarty.

HOH will accept that answer but will still keep an eye out for King on the dance floor — just in case.

Kate Ackley contributed to this report.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.

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