Heard on the Hill: The Dating Game, Capitol-Style

Posted November 15, 2008 at 12:17pm

Meet the frosh, Washington. And since their policy positions and political maneuvering have already been well-covered, HOH is concerned only with what the people eagerly awaiting this influx of new blood really want to know: Which of them are single?

[IMGCAP(1)]HOH pressed staffers of the handful of new Members of the 111th Congress who are listed as single in their official biographies.

Our Bachelor No. 1 appears to be Tom Perriello, the Virginia Democrat who might have unseated Republican Rep. Virgil Goode (sorry, ladies, state election officials won’t confirm the outcome until later this month). Spokeswoman Jessica Barba says the 34-year-old is indeed available.

“Technically, he’s on the market,” she says, adding that the rigors of campaigning haven’t exactly been kind to her boss’ social calendar. “He hasn’t been able to keep up the dating life,” she says.

But don’t get your hopes up about New Mexico Democrat Ben Luján. While he’s officially single, HOH found out that the 36-year-old is actually spoken for.

“Not on the market,” says spokesman Mark Nicaster. The heartbreaker has been dating someone for a year and a half, Nicaster says.

Maine Democrat Chellie Pingree isn’t eligible, either, alas. The lovely 53-year-old divorcee is dating hedge-fund manager Donald Sussman, a spokesman says.

Glamorous Days. Draped in mink, garbed in slinky evening gowns with blood-red lips pursed, the pin-up girls in a new calendar are hardly showing off their best assets — their conservative credentials.

The Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute’s annual calendar honoring conservative women debuts this week, and a sneak peek shows the likes of Ann Coulter (Miss September) and Michelle Malkin (Miss June) dolled up as 1940s movie starlets. Luce, the former Republican Congresswoman from Connecticut who died in 1987, is Miss December.

Institute spokeswoman Jessica Cantelon insists that the vampy gambit isn’t meant to objectify the conservative gals. “It just puts them in a different element,” she says. “These are women who are known for their intellect.” As for the totally non-PC minks that each of the women wear, she says that’s supposed to evoke old-school Hollywood.

And the cheesecake poses are likely to accessorize many a dorm room: The calendar is free to college students, Cantelon says, although it’s $25 for everyone else.

Not all conservatives are enamored of the ladies’ dress-up act. One unimpressed Republican snarks, “Where were these taken, the Glamour Shots at Landmark Mall?”

Still, those who want to admire the women’s … um, intellect, might find the calendar to be a perfect holiday stocking stuffer.

In the Driver’s Seat. What’s the opposite of diva-esque behavior by Members of Congress? Sen. Jeff Bingaman, apparently. The unassuming New Mexico Democrat was spotted leaving a conference last Wednesday, and not only was he not being schlepped around by staffers (per the norm), the boss was actually chauffeuring the underlings.

No-drama Bingaman gave a ride to two aides after the Carbon Market Insights Americas 2008 Conference put on by Point Carbon and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change at the Marriott Wardman Park in Woodley Park, an HOH spy reports. And no big, black SUVs for the down-to-earth Bingaman, either: The three men made their getaway in a Prius with New Mexico tags.

The Obama Scapegoat? While D.C. insiders squabble over who will get the Secretary of State gig in the Obama administration (yawn), most of the country has been enthralled over a more pressing question — which breed of dog will the future first family pick?

But in a town that’s all about competing interest groups, nothing is ever that simple, and now there’s another four-legged creature lobbying to be First Pet.

Margaret the Goat lives at the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Ovando, Mont. While most of the residents at the nonprofit sanctuary are disabled dogs and cats, Margaret came to the ranch on work duty, assigned to eat pesky out-of-control weeds, ranch overseer Steve Smith tells HOH. But instead, Margaret ignored her duties to hang out with the staff.

“She is more like a dog than a goat. She follows people all over the place,” Smith says. “She goes for a walk down to the mailbox to get the mail with you.”

With her friendly disposition (and entitled I-don’t-want-to-work nature), Margaret would make a perfect White House pet, Smith argues. To get the word out, Smith posted an item on the ranch’s blog about Margaret, writing that there’s precedent: Former Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Harrison both kept goats at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Even if Margaret doesn’t make it to Washington, Smith says he’s just happy that the Obamas plan to get a rescue dog rather than a pet from a breeder. He even offered up Molly and Priscilla, two blind standard poodles who live at the ranch, noting that they are hypoallergenic.

“There are absolutely wonderful animals in shelters today that would make terrific family pets,” Smith says. “We were just thrilled that the Obamas decided they were going to adopt.”

Really Expensive Cheap Seats. Millions of Americans are vying for a chance to sit in one of the 28,600 seats that will be set up for President-elect Barack Obama’s Jan. 20 inauguration ceremony on the Capitol’s West Front. And while tickets are free (if you can get your hands on one) the cost of setting up all those fancy chairs isn’t cheap.

The Architect of the Capitol announced on Thursday it had awarded a $60,060 contract to Capital Party Rentals to provide the coveted public seats for the historic ceremony. The Dulles, Va.-based company will be required to deliver the chairs, set them up and then remove them once the event wraps up.

With luck, none of the excited inaugural attendees will want to take one of the chairs home as a souvenir.

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