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GOP Casting Call

The closest most political types have gotten to treading the proverbial boards is participating in political theater. But that could change this summer during the Republicans’ political convention in Minneapolis and St. Paul, where bar owners are hoping to cast visiting GOPers in plays.

[IMGCAP(1)]Bars in Minnesota have taken to using a novel loophole in the state’s smoking ban that permits smoking by actors who are part of a performance. They are holding “theater nights” in which patrons are the actors and the props are ashtrays and cigarettes — a sneaky way of allowing barflies, er, cast members, to smoke.

Cambridge, Minn., attorney Mark Benjamin, who is representing bars against court challenges to their use

of the acting loophole, tells HOH that Republicans visiting the Twin Cities for the convention should be prepared to get theatrical.

He notes that the exemption for actors will likely stay in place throughout the summer, since the state legislature wraps up its session in two weeks, and that it doesn’t appear to have the “time or the inclination” to clarify the law before adjourning. “It’s going to be a fun summer,” he tells us.

Some bars have gone as far as handing out buttons labeling patrons as actors and playbills announcing the evening’s “performance.”

And GOP staffers hoping to fire up in bars during the convention festivities say they’re ready for their close-ups. One GOP source had an idea for a possible Republican-themed theatrical production. “Two words: Red Dawn,” he told HOH.

Instead of briefing books for airport reading on the way to the convention, HOH is now suggesting GOP staffers carry Stanislavski’s “An Actor Prepares.”

Butts Banned, Smoke Stays. Senate buildings might have gone smoke-free, but the air around the chamber hasn’t cleared. Smokers pushed out of the Senate’s last nicotine havens on Monday gathered instead just outside the doors to buildings, HOH spies said, creating a haze that irked plenty of nonsmokers.

When the Senate Rules and Administration Committee officially banned smoking in the last few rooms where lighting up was still allowed — including the famous smoking room in the Dirksen cafeteria — fans of clean air cheered. Until, that is, they realized that all the smokers instead were creating clouds around the doorways.

And while anti-smoking crusaders applauded the smoke-out, some staffers say they liked the old way better. “It was better when you had the cancer-only section,” one nonsmoking staffer griped to HOH. “At least that way you knew where to avoid it — now they’re everywhere.”

No-Shows for Rehearsal. Practice might make perfect, but what happens when no one makes practice? HOH got a sneak peek on Monday afternoon of “A Comedy of Capitol Errors,” this year’s Will on the Hill play. The annual event raises money for the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s community outreach.

And here’s hoping all went well come showtime Monday night, because most of the cast, which included 12 Members of Congress and assorted Washington glitterati, didn’t bother to attend rehearsal.

Only Reps. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Diane Watson (D-Calif.) showed up at the Sidney Harman Hall for a walk-through of the play — despite the fact that cast members received their copies of the script only last week.

It makes sense that Sánchez would turn up, since she portrayed a Republican in the play, something that could be a challenge for the die-hard Dem. Her sister, Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), played her separated-at-birth Democratic twin. (“I figured it was the more challenging role,” Linda joked during rehearsal about her role as a Republican.)

Watson played Lobbyist No. 3 in the production. And HOH trusts that with all that practice, she put on a better performance than Motion Picture Association of America Chairman Dan Glickman and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), who were set to play Lobbyists No. 1 and No. 2. But then again, HOH is certain the entire cast did fine, since everybody was allowed to bring copies of their scripts on stage during the performance.

A Senate Seat is a Girl’s Best Friend. Jane Fleming-Kleeb is making the rest of us look bad. The wife of Nebraska Senatorial candidate Scott Kleeb isn’t asking her husband for a birthday present of an iPod or jewelry or even a fancy dinner. No, for her 35th birthday, the selfless wannabe member of the exclusive Senate Spouse’s Club just wants her husband to get elected.

Fleming-Kleeb on Monday sent out an e-mail fundraising appeal in which she oh-so-adorably asks for contributions to her husband’s campaign in honor of her own b-day. “Last week Scott got around to asking (finally!) what I wanted for my birthday,” she writes. “And while I tried to give him a hard time about ‘waiting till the last minute’ I couldn’t pretend to be upset for even a moment. All I want is Scott to represent us in the US Senate. Would you help my birthday wish come true?”

In the e-mail asking for a dollar for each of the 35 candles on her birthday cake, she goes on to recount the tale of how she and Kleeb met: “We were at a Young Democrats of America conference on rural issues, and though his looks and cowboy boots where the first thing that caught my eye, it wasn’t those that held my attention,” Fleming-Kleeb writes. “It wasn’t what he said about energy independence, or education, or workers rights either. It was the way he talked about them.”

Sounds like the icing on that cake isn’t the only treacle on the campaign trail.

A Hollywood Honor. It’s been a month since Charlton Heston died, but the tributes for the late actor — second perhaps only to Ronald Reagan as Hollywood’s most legendary conservative — keep on coming.

The House got into the action on Monday, passing by voice vote a rather in-depth resolution noting that “the United States of America has lost a great patriot” and calling Heston “a great generous man” who “became beloved by the Nation.”

Introduced by Rep. Don Young (R- Alaska), the bipartisan legislation snagged 112 co-sponsors.

It wasn’t really a surprise that the House, well-known for its many legislative tributes, honored Heston. And after all, the Oscar winner wasn’t just an actor — he helmed the powerful National Rifle Association for nearly five years.

A more personal tribute in the bill caught HOH’s eye: Language in the resolution notes that aside from holding conservative views, Heston did something else pretty un-Hollywood by staying married to Lydia Clarke — “the love of his life” — for 64 years.

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