Heard on the Hill: Stone’s Monologue Rolls On … and On

Posted January 21, 2009 at 6:29pm

We’re used to filibusters in this town — but they’re usually delivered by Senators, not actresses. At the Pennsylvania State Society Inaugural Gala on Tuesday night, “Basic Instinct” villainess Sharon Stone took to the stage and, instead of making the expected brief remarks, launched into a lecture.

[IMGCAP(1)]Stone’s oversharing was sartorial as well as oratorical: Wearing a dark gown that plunged nearly to her navel, the Pennsylvania native delivered a rambling, 15-minute speech during the bash, a spy told HOH. Our spy says the lengthy oration touched on everything from growing up in a small town to the Liberty Bell to the American dream to how Pennsylvanians are very nice people. She also discussed the state’s natural resources at length, listing them in no particular order and rattling on about their importance, according to the source.

Stone has a reputation for being, shall we say … talkative. Most famously, she created controversy last year when she blamed an earthquake, which killed nearly 70,000 people in China’s Sichuan province, on karmic payback for China’s treatment of Tibet. (Stone later apologized.)

And while Stone didn’t say anything nearly as controversial Tuesday night, she did put a bit of a damper on the otherwise joyous festivities. As our spy put it: “It was like she was giving a dissertation.”

We’d give that dissertation a “C” — for chatty.

Sarge Gets Sentimental. Kleenex usage saw a huge uptick during the inaugural ceremonies Tuesday, and talk-show hostess Oprah Winfrey wasn’t the only one who was visibly moved — plenty of Members and guests were spotted tearing up.

Apparently, the historic events even inspired the normally stoic Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer to pen an unusually heartfelt e-mail to staffers about the big day.

In the e-mail, which the former Capitol Police chief sent to employees at about 7 p.m. on Inauguration Day, Gainer extended thanks to everyone for their work ensuring things went smoothly. And for a man who is known for being the strong-but-silent type, the message was surprisingly sentimental.

“What a day it has been! The Capitol building and grounds sparkled. The crowds were huge but the people beamed, the sun was bright, the wind brisk, and yes it was a bit chilly,” Gainer wrote.

Gainer, who accompanied President Barack Obama throughout the day, also wrote of seeing off the new president and first lady Michelle Obama.

“He had a wide grin as we approached each other, and while shaking hands … he said ‘thank you, for all that has been done here today,’” Gainer wrote. “So from his lips to your ears, eyes in this case, thank you.”

Who knew the tough guy could be so sentimental?

GOP Eyes A-Rod. Look out, President Barack Obama, folks on Capitol Hill may be trying to lure away some of your staff. And worse yet, those wishing they could poach your peeps are Republicans.

An HOH tipster overheard Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), the chairman of the House GOP Policy Committee, introducing himself to Obama senior adviser David Axelrod on Tuesday during the inaugural luncheon in the Capitol.

McCotter told Axelrod that it’s too bad he’s not a Republican (we’re guessing the president’s campaign guru doesn’t share that sentiment), saying he would rather have him as an ally than an opponent.

“Unfortunately, you’re very good at what you do,” the GOPer lamented.

Toby for Arts Czar. The idea of having a Cabinet-level position devoted to promoting the American arts seems to be catching on — and at least one celebrity visiting Washington, D.C., for the inauguration is volunteering his services.

Richard Schiff, best known for his role as White House Communications Director Toby Ziegler in the defunct-but-still-famous series “The West Wing,” is hoping to make life imitate art. He told HOH at the Creative Coalition’s inaugural ball Tuesday that he’s putting his hat in the ring. “I’ll take it!” the arts activist and frequent visitor to Capitol Hill said of the possible White House post.

He might have some competition, though. Actor Tony Goldwyn, co-president of the Creative Coalition, also seemed interested, although he stopped short of actually whipping out his résumé. “To have someone constantly ringing the bell for the arts would be very helpful,” he told us.

The Ben-ator Goes Hollywood. HOH also spotted Sen. Ben Nelson heading into the Creative Coalition gala, looking party-ready. But despite the mega-wattage of the stars assembled inside the Hollywood-goes-East soiree, the jovial Nebraska Democrat didn’t seem star-struck.

Nelson confessed that he doesn’t follow the glitterati and didn’t plan to ask for any autographs. But, he said, celebrities occasionally give him the star treatment.

“Sometimes, they even ask me for my autograph,” he said.

Is That You, Blago? Among all the commemorative T-shirts, posters, calendars and other tchotchkes enterprising vendors were hawking on the streets of Washington, D.C., an HOH tipster found an especially creative offering. A guy on K Street downtown was attempting to sell miniature chairs, cleverly marketed as “Barack Obama’s Senate Seat”— a wink at Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who is accused of trying to sell the seat vacated by Obama to the highest bidder.

The tipster didn’t catch the price, but if it’s anything like the real Senate seat, it’s probably negotiable.

Now that’s American ingenuity, folks.

A Bit of Neighborly Love. When a group of revelers came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to celebrate Democratic President Barack Obama’s inauguration, they probably didn’t think they would be watching the event in the office of a staunch Southern conservative.

But that’s exactly what happened in the Rayburn House Office Building when an inauguration-watching party sponsored by Democratic Rep. Danny Davis for some of his Illinois constituents reached capacity.

The party venue, a second-floor Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing room, quickly filled up as excited Obama supporters gathered to watch the ceremony. About 30 of them couldn’t squeeze into the room and were forced to ponder their options out in the hallway.

That’s when neighborly staffers from Alabama Republican Rep. Spencer Bachus’ nearby office decided to invite the Illinois folks in. Bachus staffers rustled up refreshments for the guests, Bachus spokesman Tim Johnson told HOH, and then everybody gathered around the television and watched Obama’s speech together.

Bachus reflected on the impromptu gathering while delivering a speech Wednesday, noting the significance of staffers for a white, Southern Republican hanging out with supporters of a black, Northern Democrat.

The moment “perfectly illustrates the healing that has transpired in America and gives hope for the future,” Bachus said.

And Here’s Where the Hearings Would Have Happened … Now that the president they wanted to impeach is out of office, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Graham Nash (of folk-rock outfit Crosby, Stills and Nash) have more time on their hands these days.

Kucinich was spotted Wednesday on the Senate side of the Capitol, where the Ohio Democrat was apparently giving a tour to the fellow impeach-Bush advocate.

Overheard on the Hill

“Scalia in a really weird hat.”

— an Inauguration day Twitter post from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who was musing on the black skullcap worn to the inaugural ceremony by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Jennifer Bendery, Shira Toeplitz and GalleryWatch’s Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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