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Heard on the Hill: And It’s Not Even Spring

Correction Appended

That’s not pollen; that’s love in the air as yet another of the House’s eligible guys is taking the plunge. Just after we reported that Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) is getting hitched, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) — who is 76 years old — tells HOH he’s delighted that “lovely lady” Patty Martin accepted an engagement ring from him as a birthday present on Aug. 31.

[IMGCAP(1)]Skelton wouldn’t divulge his intended’s age (“She would shoot me dead, and I don’t want our first fight to be about that,” he tells HOH), but he says she’s younger than him and that the two, both of whom hail from Lexington, Mo., have known each other for years. The obviously smitten Skelton seemed not to believe his luck at finding love after his wife of 44 years, Susie Skelton, died in 2005.

“She’s such a lovely lady,” Skelton said of his betrothed. “I’m thrilled that she took that ring.” They haven’t set a date or made any wedding plans yet.

Sounds like a House bachelor party could be in the works.

Biden Alum in Sexy Role. Washingtonians watching “Privileged,” the new eye-candy series on the CW, might wish that they, too, had a hunky neighbor like the one on the show. But they missed their chance to call on 29-year-old actor Brian Hallisay for a cup of sugar — he was once a Congressional page for both Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and former Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.), as well as an intern in the Clinton White House.

Hallisay graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1996 and spent summers toiling on Capitol Hill. After graduating from Cornell in 2000, he left politics behind and went into finance and later acting. The page alumnus landed parts on shows including “Bones,” “CSI,” and “Cold Case.” His role on “Privileged,” in which he plays the son of a media mogul who lives next door to the main characters, could be his breakthrough.

Looks like his days schlepping other people’s mail are over.

‘Ugly’ Actor, Stinky Joke. Actor Tony Plana, who plays the eponymous character’s father on the hit show “Ugly Betty,” had the crowd rolling at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gala on Wednesday, with a crack at the advancing age of Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). While emceeing the event, Plana was talking to the audience about McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin. The Alaskan governor “has her hands full,” Plana said. “She is the mother of a 4-month-old child, is about to be a grandmother, and as vice president to Sen. McCain, she would be elbows deep in changing diapers.”


Where’s His Hall Pass? Strolling through the Capitol on Wednesday could have prompted a late 1980s, early 1990s flashback. That was Dennis Haskins, who played the wet-blanket Principal Belding of Bayside High in the cheesy teen series “Saved by the Bell,” walking through the building.

One onlooker who recognized the actor was Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who was a teen during the show’s run and therefore squarely in the show’s target demographic. “The excitement of seeing Mr. Belding was fleeting when he realized Kelly Kapowski wasn’t in tow,” McHenry’s spokesman Brock McCleary tells HOH, referring to the character played by teen crush Tiffani-Amber Thiessen.

And, alas, Screech — the show’s resident geek and now a sex-tape star — was nowhere to be found, either.

Pelosi Speech Drives Boehner to Tears. On HOH’s to-do list: Buy stock in tissues. House Minority Leader John Boehner turned on his well-oiled waterworks Thursday during the commemorative service marking the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The Ohio Republican frequently tears up, which wouldn’t be quite so noteworthy if he wasn’t otherwise a pretty tough cookie.

And interestingly, our colleagues who saw the teary moment says Boehner started watering up during remarks by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Craig Considers Cussing on Way Out. Two old hands on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who are leaving Congress (for very different reasons) started with their long goodbyes last week.

Thursday’s markup was the last for Sens. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho). Domenici was the chairman for four years and the ranking member during the past two, and he’s the only remaining Member who served on the committee since its inception in 1977. The New Mexico Republican spoke of his plans for retirement.

“It might be that my life will carry me into areas where I will see some of you every now and then,” he said. “If I do, that would be a pleasure.”

Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) asked Craig, who is retiring following a scandal over his arrest in an airport bathroom sex sting, whether he wanted to chime in, too, with some final words. Bingaman asked if Craig “would like to make some comments about your time here in the committee, or cuss us all out — whatever you would like to do.”

Craig joked, “It did cross my mind.”

Clayton Hanson and Pamela King of GalleryWatch contributed to this report.

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Correction: Sept. 15, 2008

An item in the column incorrectly described the age of Patty Martin, the fiancee of Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.). Martin is younger than Skelton.