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HOH’s One-Minute Recess: Michael Jackson’s Washington

As snippets of Michael Jackson’s greatest hits played on cable TV and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) even led a moment of silence in honor of the deceased pop icon, HOH figured a trip down memory lane was in order.

Here are a few bits from the archives chronicling how the King of Pop’s reign even extended to the nation’s Capitol:

[IMGCAP(1)]• The biggest M.J.-Capitol Hill connection came in 2004, when the pop star visited the Hill and brought controversy with him. Democratic Members fretted over the “public relations problem— of meeting with Jackson, who was then facing molestation allegations, Roll Call reported, with many Democrats steering clear. Jackson discussed his efforts to help fight AIDS in Africa with some Members, including Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), William Lacy Clay (Mo.) and Chaka Fattah (Pa.).

• Jackson occasionally turned up as a punch line in the jokes of wisecracking Members. In 1998, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was speaking on the House floor about the differences in how the House and Senate would handle the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton. “We have a rule in the House that an amendment has to be germane to a bill,— he noted, according to an HOH item. “In the Senate, they think germane’ is Michael Jackson’s brother.—

• And HOH also reported that at the annual Washington Press Club Foundation Congressional Dinner in 2004, Gov. and then-Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.) dropped a reference to the King of Pop in his stand-up act. Corzine said serving as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was “somewhere between being Michael Jackson’s lawyer and his plastic surgeon.—

• One Member of Congress, perhaps trying to win cool points, even imitated Jackson at a swanky Washington dinner, the Washington Post reported at the time.

When then-Rep. Thomas Downey (D-N.Y.) accepted an award at the Recording Industry Association of America’s Cultural Awards dinner in 1984, he came onto the stage in sunglasses and a white glove, telling the crowd he had a message from one of the nation’s “recording giants.—

“I want to thank my mother and father,— Downey said, in full Jackson-esque falsetto voice.

“I have promised Nancy Reagan I’ll take these glasses off,— he continued, referring to the singer’s visit to the White House.

• Here’s a moment that Rep. Henry Waxman might want to take back: In September 1990, the California Democrat took to the House floor to announce that Jackson was to receive the “Good Scout Humanitarian Award— from the Boy Scouts of America.

This, HOH will note, was before the singer was hit with the child molestation charges that significantly damaged his public image. (He was eventually acquitted on all charges.)

“While Michael Jackson has dazzled the world with his unique style and unparalleled talent, he has also consistently devoted his energy to philanthropic pursuits,— Waxman said. “He has donated his efforts to many areas of need, with a special emphasis on organizations dedicated to the health, education, protection and welfare of children.—

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