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Heard on the Hill: A Laughing Matter

Rep. Jackie Speier faced down some tough crowds at town halls over recess, but later this month, she’ll get to throw her own jabs while facing another audience with rotten tomatoes at the ready.

[IMGCAP(1)]The California Democrat is the only Member of Congress brave enough to sign up to compete (so far, anyway) in the upcoming Funniest Celebrity in Washington contest, which will see political pundits, journalists and D-list celebs such as Joe “The Plumber— Wurzelbacher (clearly stretching out his 15 minutes) vie for the most laughs on Sept. 30 at the DC Improv.

Speier won’t be the only Member attending the event, since Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) will take the stage to receive a lifetime achievement award. But in vying for the title of D.C.’s funniest personality, the rookie performer has some big Congressional shoes to fill: Members such as Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) are among the past winners.

Speier has the backing of her staff — “My boss is naturally funny and I have no doubt she’ll do great,— spokesman Mike Larsen told HOH — as well as contest founder Richard Siegel, who told HOH that Speier’s lighthearted personality gives her “a good shot— at victory.

“I offer comedy consulting to anybody who wants to listen to me,— Siegel added. “I just try to explain that the bar is really low. … When you explain that Sen. Lieberman won in the past, and [Sen.] Arlen Specter [D-Pa.] was second one year, that seals it right there.—

Others taking the stage include Americans for Tax Reform President (and veteran contestant) Grover Norquist, former local TV horror-show host Gore De Vol, Motion Picture Association of America President Dan Glickman, restaurateur and chef Geoff Tracy and the GEICO gecko.

Yes, that’s right: the witty Australian lizard from those car insurance ads.

“I think this year we have more variety than we’ve ever had before,— Siegel said. “We’ve got our Jewish faction, we’ve got our reptile faction.—

And Siegel promises that the gecko — although technically not competing for the title — will be a highlight of the show, which benefits the nonprofit charity StandUp for Kids.

“I can’t reveal the logistics, but you will hear his Australian accent,— Siegel promised. “And you will see his GEICO costume. It will be a live performance.—

Hinchey’s Going Dutch. When Rep. Maurice Hinchey arrives at work today, his colleagues might not know whether they should curtsy or address the New York Democrat as “Sir Maurice.—

Hinchey was selected by Her Royal Highness Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to receive the country’s Order of the Orange-Nassau Medal, one of the country’s highest honors. But there’s no need to break out the protocol books — despite the fancy honorific, Hinchey isn’t expecting a title change. “I’ll settle for Representative,’— he says.

Hinchey — whose own ancestry is Irish and Ukranian, not Dutch — got the medal and was appointed an officer in the order during a ceremony on Friday for his work in promoting the quadricentennial anniversary of the exploration of the Hudson River by Dutchman Henry Hudson.

Hinchey proclaimed himself to be “deeply honored and thankful— for the recognition.

It’s Always Intern Season. Poking fun at interns is the new black: season-less and always in style. Capitol Hill’s favorite blog dedicated to chronicling the foibles of the intern set recently announced it wouldn’t shut down after the summer, even though most of the city’s free laborers have packed up and moved back to their dorms (or to their parents’ basements).

“Per popular request, the DC [Summer] Intern Blog will remain open year-round, so please continue to send us your entertaining stories for publication!— read an editor’s note on the popular blog (

The forum, which began this summer, allows witnesses to anonymously share their best tales of interns (also, alas, unnamed, with identifying details scrubbed) behaving badly, with popular themes including underage drinking, poor wardrobe decisions, delusions of grandeur and general ignorance.

Even though summer is over, at least one of HOH’s favorite seasonal pastimes will live on.

Overhead on the Hill. “… that was me at Target in the soap aisle. You shoulda said hi. Was with my daughter Lily. We’re very friendly.—

— A Twitter posting last week from Sen. Claire McCaskill, HOH’s favorite over-sharing Twitterer, describing some of what she did over her summer vacation. The Missouri Democrat was responding to a fellow Twitter user who posted that she had been “star struck— when she spotted the Senator out shopping.

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