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Heard on the Hill: Schock, a GQ Man

Rep. Aaron Schock might have gained fame for that shot of him in a red bathing suit (subsequently posted by gossip Web site TMZ), but it turns out the Illinois Republican looks pretty darn good in a three-piece suit, too.

[IMGCAP(1)]The ever-so-handsome Schock appears in a spread for the new issue of GQ, which hits newsstands today. Schock is featured in a number of photos posing in fancy-schmancy duds (designers include Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Club Monaco and Brooks Brothers), including one at Capitol Hill Books on C Street Southeast.

Schock tells GQ reporter Greg Veis that he takes that TMZ photo in stride — “In a sea of 435 people in Congress, part of getting things done is having an ID,— he says. But Schock adds that his real goal is to lead the Republican Party into a new era, noting that the Bush administration had “a failure to communicate.—

GQ points out, however, that Schock’s own communication skills lag in certain areas, such as the fact that he still has an AOL account. “It gets worse,— Veis writes. “‘I got to know Elton John’s older music by learning to like his newer stuff,’ he says. ‘The Lion King? That’s what I like.’—

And why does Schock, one of Capitol Hill’s most eligible bachelors, think he’s still single?

“My only personal time is a couple of hours in the gym in the morning,— he tells the mag.

Members of Congress, Just Like Us! Hey, even Senators need to bargain shop. An HOH spy spotted Sen. Jon Kyl at a Target in Alexandria, Va., on Saturday morning sporting a weekend-ready light blue polo shirt and shorts. Our spy noted that she spotted the Arizona Republican by the handbags and kids clothing sections, although she added that the Senator didn’t appear to be looking for any of that merchandise.

Musical Honors. Country crooner Gretchen Wilson is scheduled to be at the Library of Congress today, receiving a special award from the National Coalition for Literacy for her efforts to promote adult education.

The “Redneck Woman— singer left high school to pursue a music career, but she finally earned her GED in 2008 at the age of 34. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) even took to the House floor Monday to honor the Grammy Award-winning country singer, noting that Wilson has teamed up with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to honor GED students and organizations that promote literacy.

“As a mother, it was important for Gretchen to lead by example and demonstrate to her 8-year-old daughter, Grace, just how important it is to have an education,— Blackburn said.

From the House to Hollywood. Washington, D.C., is well-known for its reputation as “Hollywood for ugly people,— but on Monday at the Newseum, a former Congressional staffer proved that you can make the transition from D.C. to La-La Land successfully.

[IMGCAP(2)]Filmmaker Will Tiao screened his movie “Formosa Betrayed— for Members and staff, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Al Green (D-Texas) and David Wu (D-Ore.). Inspired by actual events, the film chronicles an FBI agent, played by James Van Der Beek of “Dawson’s Creek— fame, who travels to Taiwan to investigate the murder of a Taiwanese-American professor.

Tiao, who described himself as a “creature of D.C.,— actually worked on both sides of the aisle during his years in Washington. He worked as a staffer for then-Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.) on the Foreign Relations Committee before serving as a presidential management intern under President Bill Clinton. He moved on to serve as an international economist for the Department of Labor, followed by a stint as a legislative fellow for the House Ways and Means Committee.

Tiao wrapped up his career in Washington in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where he served as a negotiator on trade agreements under President George W. Bush.

With all that bipartisan experience under his belt, Tiao joked on Monday that “it’s so nice to see Republicans and Democrats in the same room.—

The screening was sponsored by the Formosa Foundation, a Los Angeles-based organization pushing for an independent, democratically governed Taiwan. Also spotted at the screening was Tiao’s co-star, actor Tzi Ma, perhaps most famous for his role as a Chinese security official on “24.—

Singing Gospel’s Praises. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) put aside legislative worries for a morning of celebration on Tuesday, joining gospel performers Richard Smallwood, Stephen Hurd and Maurette Brown Clark at a press conference in the Capitol marking Gospel Music Heritage Month.

Both Lincoln and Jackson Lee are huge fans of gospel music, and Lincoln recalled that as a young girl growing up on the Mississippi Delta, she was given change every Saturday morning to buy candy or a record. She often bought a record, remembering how she loved listening to gospel music inside the store.

Jackson Lee cited personal influences including Yolanda Adams, Kurt Carr, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Mahalia Jackson and the Mighty Clouds of Joy.

Among the songs sung on Tuesday, Jackson Lee said, “Total Praise— performed by Smallwood “is a song that reaches across all levels of our community no matter what educational background or what region you come from,— she said. “It’s a song that people understand. Your faith is the center of your life. It doesn’t dictate what your faith is; it simply says your faith is the center of your life.—

Jackson Lee noted that gospel was celebrated on Sept. 12 at the Kennedy Center, which was particularly moving following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

“How interesting to celebrate Gospel Music Heritage Month at the Kennedy Center, named after a family that provided such comfort to the American people,— Jackson Lee said.

Promoting Secrets. It’s only in Washington that Members of an uber-secretive society will hold a press conference to talk all about their uber-secretive society.

Perhaps hoping to stave off accusations of secretly being the puppet masters of American democracy — certain to be leveled after the release of Dan Brown’s D.C.-centric thriller “The Lost Symbol— — a former Freemason grand master and an expert on Freemasonry took to the podium at the National Press Club on Tuesday.

Akram Elias and colleague James Wasserman (described as a “longtime student of the occult sciences—) talked about Masonic influences around Washington, including the mural “The Apotheosis of Washington— inside the Capitol Dome, created by Freemason Constantino Brumidi to honor President George Washington (also a Freemason).

But the duo also worked to dismiss false claims about the Freemasons, including notions that members worship the devil. “If you think our great Founding Fathers and heroes, people like George Washington, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere and others who were prominent Freemasons, were devil worshipers … ple-ase,— Elias said.

Teddy Hits Washington. Several HOH tipsters spotted businessman and philanthropist Ted Turner on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, shaking hands with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and other Members (and staffers) throughout the chamber. HOH couldn’t figure out by deadline what the media guru (and founder of Ted’s Montana Grill) was doing on Capitol Hill; a call to a Turner spokeswoman went unreturned.

Byron C. Tau, Christie Williams, John Stanton and Shira Toeplitz contributed to this report.

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