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Heard on the Hill: Sleeping Beauty

Hill denizens might refer to a boring committee meeting as a “snooze,— but Sen. Jim Bunning seemed to be taking the billing literally, drifting off during Tuesday’s high-profile markup of health care reform legislation.

[IMGCAP(1)]During opening remarks at the Senate Finance Committee session, the Kentucky Republican appeared fast asleep for several minutes, with his head cocked to the side and his eyes closed, before a staffer roused him. Bunning’s head was propped in his hand and his mouth was slightly open while he slept, several witnesses told HOH.

The staffer nudged his shoulder to wake him once it became clear that members of the audience had noticed the snoozing Senator (it was apparently the giggling from the crowd that tipped the staffer off).

Bunning’s office did not return HOH’s call seeking comment on his disco nap.

Not that we can fault the guy for catching some Z’s — we’ve often thought that a few minutes of Senatorial droning beats Ambien for sleep-inducing properties.

Daddy Duty. It looked like take-your-daughter-to-work day on Tuesday, when an HOH spy spotted Sen. Chris Dodd walking with his youngest daughter, Christina, along Massachusetts Avenue near Stanton Park.

The Connecticut Democrat was hand-in-hand with the darling 4-year-old, who carried a backpack. Turns out, Christina had her own work to attend to: A Dodd spokesman says Christina was on her way to school (with a VIP escort).

Battle of the Blatherers. Who’s the most loquacious legislator? Most Congress-watchers wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) spoke the most words (257,274) of any Member of Congress last session, but a new Web site makes it fun to explore the chattiest of the chattering class.

Congressspeaks.com allows users to pit Members against one another to see who uttered the most words during the 110th Congress, and it shows which words they used the most. Yes, it’s super-wonky, but the snazzy animated graphics and jaunty sound effects give it the feel of a game instead of a dusty civics lesson.

One of the creators of the nonpartisan, nonprofit site says he’s not providing any data that are not in the public domain — he’s just making them more entertaining and engaging. “This information can be fun,— says Dino Citraro, a partner in Portland, Ore.-based design firm Periscopic. “And the richer an experience you can provide, the longer you can hold people’s attention.—

Which just might be a lesson to all those Congressional gabbers.

Feat Firsts. They’ve escaped explosions, raced cars and even fought off alien predators, but now they’re about to face their toughest challenge — a Congressional reception.

The Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus will honor the Black Stuntmen’s Association and Coalition of Black Stuntmen and Women at a reception Thursday afternoon at the Motion Picture Association of America.

The daredevil performers will be toasted for breaking racial barriers in the entertainment industry and presented a copy of a House resolution honoring them, caucus Chairwoman Diane Watson (D-Calif.) writes in a “Dear Colleague— letter this week.

HOH peeked at a copy of the legislation, which notes that in the early days of stunt work, film and television productions featured almost all white stuntmen. White stunt doubles even filled in for black actors, using “makeup to darken their complexion in a process known as ‘paint-down,’— the resolution notes.

The groups being honored on Thursday confronted Hollywood studios and big-time movie execs about these discriminatory practices, paving the way for “greater racial equality in film and television in the ensuing years,— Watson writes. “Their contributions have been pivotal in changing the way Hollywood does business.—

Overheard on the Hill. “Took DC interns 2 lunch w/mi familia, spoke on House floor on need 4 UN reform, const appnt @ office n watched DeLay dance video on YouTube.—

— Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), sharing the details of her busy Tuesday morning in a Twitter post.

David Drucker, GalleryWatch’s Clayton Hansen and CongressNow’s Stephen Langel contributed to this report.

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