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Heard on the Hill: Clay’s Divorce Drama

Rep. William Lacy Clay won over the audience as a romantic lead in the annual “Will on the Hill— performance at the Shakespeare Theatre Co.

In the charity theatrics on Monday night, Clay portrayed a Romeo-esque character separated from his true love (played by CNN’s Jessica Yellin) by their families, who were of opposite political stripes. But behind the scenes, things in Clay’s love life were even messier than they were onstage.

[IMGCAP(1)]Earlier in the day, news that Clay filed for divorce from wife Ivie Lewellen Clay was making waves in their hometown of St. Louis. On Tuesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Ivie Clay claimed she and the couple’s two children first learned of the filing through news reports, and the Congressman had yet to inform his children of the divorce.

“I and my children are devastated and embarrassed that my husband let us find out from the children’s friends and the media that he had filed for divorce, and mostly that he still has not contacted our children,— Ivie Clay said, according to the Post-Dispatch. “I would have wanted to prepare the children.—

Clay on Tuesday shot back, releasing to HOH a statement claiming that the divorce wasn’t much of a shocker. “My wife and I have been discussing this situation for a number of months and this action should not have come as a surprise to anyone,— the statement read in part.

And while Clay on Monday night was all smiles on the stage of the Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall, his statement indicates things aren’t so happy. “This is a difficult, private family matter that will hopefully be resolved [amicably] and swiftly by all parties,— the statement reads.

HOH doesn’t know if this drama will end up as a tragedy, but for now it’s certainly a tempest.

Garner’s New Alias. Actress Jennifer Garner sported many disguises during her time portraying a secret agent, and on Tuesday she added another job title to her real-life repertoire.

The actress spent the day as a lobbyist, joining activist Mark Shriver on Capitol Hill to ask Members to allocate $2 billion in additional funding for early childhood education. The pair attended a luncheon in the Rayburn House Office Building before meeting privately with Members, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Sens. Arlen Specter (Pa.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

A celebrity ambassador for the nonprofit group Save the Children, Garner also spent part of the day reading to students at a local preschool. Before her trip to the Hill, Garner told HOH it would be her first time lobbying Members — unlike her hubby, actor Ben Affleck, who’s a frequent visitor to the Capitol — and she admitted she was a bit nervous.

“I don’t really know what to expect. I feel like I’ll be standing in the hallway with a sandwich board,— Garner joked.

Tuesday wasn’t Garner’s first time in D.C. — the West Virginia native is a frequent visitor to the nation’s capital, and counts Georgetown and the National Zoo among her favorite haunts. And she could soon be back — Garner and Affleck also are on the guest list for Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, although she told HOH she is unsure if she’ll attend.

“Ben will definitely be there,— she promised.

Huddling With a Legend. That was Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino popping into Sen. Dick Durbin’s office on Tuesday, causing nudges and autograph requests from even typically blasé Capitol staffers.

HOH hears the legendary Miami Dolphin (and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective— star) was in town to talk about autism issues with Members of Congress, including the Illinois Democrat. Marino founded the Dan Marino Foundation after his son was diagnosed with autism.

We hear Marino and Durbin didn’t have much time for football chat, but rather talked about Marino’s push for federal funding for residential programs for autism victims and Durbin’s autism legislation.

Playing the President. So how does one prepare for a role as President Barack Obama?

Easy — visit YouTube. That’s what local theater actor Keith Chappelle did, anyway.

“YouTube was actually one of my best friends,— said Chappelle, who starred as Obama in a recent New York stage production. “I went on YouTube and watched some of his speeches and got a good idea of him.—

Chappelle, who just wrapped up a gig as the title character in the Shakespeare Theatre Co.’s production of “Ion,— portrayed then-Sen. Obama in “Obama Drama,— which consisted of several 10-minute skits focusing on various areas of Obama’s life.

Chappelle is a dead ringer for Obama — he’s tall, thin, African-American and has rather prominent ears. But while Obama is generally considered a cool character, Chappelle portrayed him in a panic, upset because he’s misplaced his American flag lapel pin before a big speech.

“It basically involved him in a hotel searching frantically for the pin, and calling his wife and her helping him over the phone try to find his pin, and finally deciding to go on without it,— Chappelle recalled.

The show originally was staged just before the presidential election, with Chappelle recalling a “kind of electricity in the moment— among the actors because it was unclear whether Obama would win. During the inauguration, the actors (most of whom, like Chappelle, were Obama supporters) came back for a set of special performances.

“That was very interesting. It was very different, because the anticipation wasn’t in the air,— Chappelle said. “Different jokes were landing.—

Overheard on the Hill. “I said, Are you Sen. Richard Burr?’ and he said, Absolutely, I am.’ What are you doing with all that money?’ Well, we’re buying mattresses to put it all in.’—

— Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, practicing his stand-up act by describing a recent visit to the ATM, while speaking at the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Friday. Kaine was joking about the North Carolina GOP Senator, who admitted that he had urged his family to withdraw money during last fall’s banking crisis.

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