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Heard on the Hill: Striptease II

The titillating tale of the two bare-chested women making out with each other at the Capitol Lounge on Saturday night is reaching near urban-legend status on Capitol Hill. [IMGCAP(1)]The scandalous rumors are flying (The girls were twins! They were tan but had no tan lines!), but HOH is happy to bring you more salacious, and confirmable, details: The women apparently engaged in the steamy session at the behest of a Lounge bartender, who said if the women wanted to stay at the bar — it was nearing closing time — they would have to take off their tops, according the HOH sources. The women acquiesced to the bartender’s (probably in-jest) request and put on quite a show.

Leahy Avoids Cutting-Room Floor. HOH has been anxiously awaiting the release of the latest installment of the Batman film franchise, “The Dark Knight.” Not for the expected reasons — like the critically acclaimed performance by the late Heath Ledger as the Joker, or the awesome special effects, or even the tub of buttery popcorn — but to catch a glimpse of our own Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who filmed a cameo role in the film.

Leahy’s staffers and fans were relieved to spy a montage of clips from the movie posted on that shows the Senator’s brief speaking role appears to have made it into the final version of the film — which is never a given, considering the editing that a big-budget film goes through.

A video clip apparently taken from a Swedish newscast shows the Senator’s big moment: a brief but powerful scene with Ledger’s unhinged Joker.

In the Senator’s scene, the Joker crashes a party and announces to the terrified crowd that he’s looking for Harvey Dent. As others in the crowd cower, Leahy, dressed nattily in a pinstriped suit, confronts the Joker. “We’re not intimidated by you thugs,” Leahy declares.

Not bad, Senator!

The Joker then grabs Leahy by the neck and holds him close. “You remind me of my father,” the Joker spits, pressing a weapon to Leahy’s throat. “I hated my father.”

It’s high-drama stuff, and if the early buzz is to be believed, it could just be part of Ledger’s Oscar clips.

Leahy, who’s a huge Batman fan, is hosting an advance screening of the film on July 12 in Montpelier, Vt., with all proceeds going to the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Leahy tells HOH that he’s pleased to be able to help his beloved library and share his Batman performance at the same time. “It’s great that two things I really enjoy have come together for a good cause,” he says.

And despite the fact that the movie is likely to be a box-office smash, don’t expect the Senator to be getting Hollywood airs. “My mother used to say, ‘Patrick, stop talking about Batman. People won’t take you seriously,’” he tells us. “But I’ve found that it’s good not to take yourself too seriously.”

Gas Up. As two-time defending Sprint Cup champion, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson is among auto racing’s most beloved talents. But when Johnson spoke at the National Press Club on Tuesday, he found himself fielding questions usually thrown at folks on Capitol Hill.

Like, just what can be done about those high gas prices?

Johnson might make a living on the racetrack, but he defended his petroleum-friendly sport like a political pro, telling folks “it’s a tough topic right now” but something that can be dealt with.

“I think we need to be smart, and I think we need to be creative,” he said. “I love my world. I want to do my part.”

Johnson also touched on presidential politics, saying that core NASCAR fans — “being strong Republicans as they are” — likely will back presumptive GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) come November.

Johnson is a frequent visitor to Washington, D.C. — he met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) back in February — but he told HOH he and his wife, Chandra, were only in town for the day this time around.

And while D.C. isn’t known as a NASCAR-loving town, Johnson said he thinks more political types are paying attention to the sport’s rising popularity, and some are even becoming fans.

“People have heard of it,” he said. “It’s been on their mind.”

Crying Tree-son. Hill staffers usually aren’t known for being nature-loving tree-huggers, but plenty of them are barking mad that a stand of cherry trees is being removed from a spot near the Ford House Office Building.

Architect of the Capitol workers have been hard at work this week removing five trees near the building, which spokeswoman Eva Malecki tells HOH is part of a comprehensive landscape overhaul at the site. The trees are old, damaged or unhealthy, Malecki says, and AOC officials decided to replace them with new trees, as well as plant new flower beds and even replace nearby sidewalks.

But not everyone is pleased. Several staffers tell HOH they believe more should have been done to save the trees before they were sentenced to death — and some fear the work could damage the trees that aren’t being removed.

“Everyone in the Ford Building is talking about this and are appalled at what they did,” one staffer tells HOH. “These were healthy trees that we all enjoyed and they just tore them all out like weeds. What makes it even sadder is seeing the birds nests lying on the ground and watching the birds flying around in confusion.”

Glad we got to the root (ahem) of that story.

Ladies Night. We know presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) is actively courting women … for their votes, of course. But we didn’t realize just how far the McCain camp would go to woo the X-chromosome set. A July 11 town hall featuring McCain and his wife, Cindy, in Hudson, Wis., is being billed as a “women’s only” event. “If you have lady friends who support or are undecided, please bring them, too,” reads the e-mail invitation from Jesse Garza, co-chair of the St. Croix County Republican Party.

And the we-swear-we-don’t-make-this-up detail: The event is being held at the facilities of J&L Steel Erectors.

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