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Heard on the Hill: A-Salt-ing Sen. Snowe

The protesters who sent bags of rock salt to the Maine office of Sen. Olympia Snowe in protest against the Republican’s “aye— vote on health care reform legislation might not have achieved their goal: “melting— the steely Snowe.

[IMGCAP(1)]But they are inadvertently helping people in need. A Snowe spokesman says the bags of rock salt (23 five-pound bags from a single hardware store in Brooklyn, N.Y.) will be donated to the Preble Street Resource Center, a soup kitchen and homeless shelter in Portland, Maine.

So far, no bags have shown up at the Senator’s Washington office, HOH hears. But it’s possible that some eventually will make their way there, since there’s a lag time for incoming mail to Congressional offices, which is inspected and irradiated.

Doubtless, the folks in chilly Maine will put the salt to good use — let it Snowe.

Colbert, on a Roll. Who was that naughty kid spotted skateboarding through the halls of the Cannon House Office Building on Wednesday? None other than Stephen Colbert, the Comedy Central funnyman, who appeared to be filming a segment for his faux cable-news show, the Colbert Report.

Colbert, who has visited the Capitol many times to film his “Better Know a District— interview series in which he spoofily grills Members of Congress, was seen careening down the building’s fourth-floor hallway and giving a high-five to an onlooker.

Slaughter’s Scoop. Everyone needs an ice cream break every now and then, and House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter is no exception.

The New York Democrat stepped out of a committee hearing Wednesday when a staffer presented her with a heaping cup of Baskin-Robbins. While members of the committee discussed some of the finer points of Coast Guard authorization legislation, Slaughter retired from the room to indulge her sweet tooth.

“A scoop of vanilla does wonders at the end of a day spent fighting for an improved economy and affordable health care against Republicans who say no to everything,— says Slaughter spokesman Vince Morris.

Maybe if Democrats topped their bills with chocolate jimmies and a cherry …

H1N1 Hypocrisy? An HOH tipster eyed Rep. John Culberson among hundreds of people lined up to get the swine flu vaccine at a public clinic at the Arlington County Public Health Division headquarters Wednesday morning.

That in itself isn’t terribly newsworthy — the Texas Republican was there to get his daughter vaccinated, a spokeswoman told HOH. But our tipster noted Culberson’s visit to the clinic was “a little ironic since the Congressman voted against the funding that was used to purchase the vaccines in the first place.—

Culberson’s office told HOH via e-mail that the Congressman actually voted for the bill that originally contained the $1.5 billion for the swine flu vaccine. He ended up voting against the conference report, however, “because, at a time of record debt and deficit, it required the federal government to borrow more money from foreign governments to lend— to the International Monetary Fund. It also did not include language from the Senate-passed bill to prevent the release of detainee photos, the e-mail added.

Nic of Time. A-list actress Nicole Kidman can make a movie into a hit — and she can pack a hearing room. Rep. Bill Delahunt knows that and thanked Kidman, who came to his Foreign Affairs subcommittee Wednesday to testify about violence against women across the globe, for adding a bit of glamour to an otherwise obscure event.

[IMGCAP(2)]“If it was just Delahunt and Rohrabacher and Burton, this would be an empty room right now,— the Massachusetts Democrat told the capacity crowd, referring to himself and the Members sitting with him on the committee dais — subcommittee ranking member Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.).

Kidman, looking ready for business in a sober black suit, was humble about her role. “I am not an expert,— demurred the actress, who is also a goodwill ambassador for the United National Development Fund for Women. “I rely on the people I have met to make the case.—

Ripped From the Headlines. Cue that infamous gavel sound.

Tamara Tunie and B.D. Wong from “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit— joined Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) on the Capitol’s West Front on Wednesday for a rally against child abuse.

Tunie and Wong spent the day with the nonprofit advocacy group Every Child Matters — and Wong admitted to HOH he was a tad bit excited to meet a Senator and a member of the Kennedy clan.

“Could you tell?— Wong joked. “That was kind of the fun part of being invited to something like this.—

Perhaps not so fun: Wong also had a run-in with a cameraman from the gossip Web site TMZ, who asked him whether he thought Richard Heene, the father from last week’s runaway balloon incident, could be considered a child abuser. “Well golly, I don’t even know where to start,— Wong responded.

In more serious matters, Wong noted that child abuse is something depicted in “SVU— storylines often, including on Wednesday night’s scheduled episode, but not something people think about in their own lives.

“It really is kind of the reason to be famous, to be able to speak out about things like this,— Wong said.

Tunie agreed — and also noted to HOH that Wednesday wasn’t her first trip to the Capitol’s West Front. “The last time I was here was on Jan. 20 for the swearing-in. It was a big day, and a little bit colder then,— she said.

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