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Heard on the Hill: Corn-y Tribute

Fly over Mercedes, Texas, in the next few weeks and you just might see Rep. Rubén Hinojosa. But the Texas Democrat won’t be on the airplane — you’ll have to look out the window to find him.

[IMGCAP(1)]South Texas farmers Chuck and Laura McCutchen carved Hinojosa’s image into their four-acre cornfield as a tribute to the Congressman. Hinojosa’s face actually forms a two-mile maze, part of the “agri-tainment— trend that sees visitors traveling to local farms for a few hours of fun and confusion.

The McCutchens spent about 60 hours over a two-week period creating the Hinojosa-inspired design, officially called the “Rio Grande Valley MAiZE.— It isn’t the first maze they’ve created, but it is the first time they’ve singled out one person to draw into the field.

Hinojosa spokeswoman Patricia Guillermo tells HOH the Congressman was surprised by the corn-y honor but got a kick out of it. Hinojosa recently visited the maze with a group of students from nearby Rubén Hinojosa Elementary School, which the McCutchens’ own children attend.

It was an educational experience. Along with getting lost in the cornfield, school groups who visit the maze must use their mental prowess. At certain points on their journey, students are stopped and given a multiple-choice question, which they must answer correctly in order to get a clue to find their way out of the maze.

Hinojosa helped with the questions during his visit, asking about history and social studies, Guillermo said.

“The McCutchens not only honored me by creating this educational work of art and agriculture, they found an inventive and fun way of teaching our children,— Hinojosa said. “And that makes all of their hard work worthwhile. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.—

As American as [Pasty] Pie. Should Rep. Mark Schauer ever leave Congress, the Michigan Democrat might have a future as a personal chef.

Although Schauer might only be able to serve one signature recipe.

Schauer’s campaign is running a contest in which one lucky donor will be treated to a hearty meal of pasty pie, which will be personally prepared by the Congressman. Until Dec. 31, anyone who contributes $25, $50 or $100 will be automatically entered to have Schauer come to his or her home and show off his culinary skills, dishing out “a delicious pasty pie for your entire family,— according to a campaign e-mail sent to supporters on Thursday.

Pasty pie is a meat-based dish that resembles a pot pie. Schauer’s recipe actually comes from his wife’s side of the family, and its ingredients include sirloin, onion, rutabaga, potatoes, parsley, butter, salt and pepper.

Schauer has become quasi-famous for the recipe in his district. A few years back, he even appeared on a local cooking program to teach viewers the recipe. (Schauer reportedly hasn’t quite mastered the recipe yet — he still turns to his wife for help every so often.)

It will be the third time Schauer has run the contest, although last time he didn’t have to actually make the pie — HOH hears the winner of the contest asked for tickets to an event featuring President Barack Obama instead, and Schauer obliged.

But the first time around, Schauer’s visit turned into a party. The woman who won invited scores of family and friends, and the group sat around eating and chatting politics for several hours.

A winner’s name will be drawn shortly after the contest ends, and Schauer should make the in-house visit sometime in January or February.

Rump Session. HOH makes a living off Capitol Hill denizens and visitors, who serve as the butt of our jokes.

[IMGCAP(2)]But this one seems just too easy.

An HOH spy on Thursday saw three older-looking folks, visiting Capitol Hill to push for a single-payer system in health care reform legislation, ordering lunch in one of the Senate’s cafeterias. The trio were dressed in a health care theme, decked out in those uber-uncomfortable blue hospital gowns, which cover a patient’s front side (but not the back).

And showcasing a rather cheeky sense of humor, the protesters had fashioned plastic buttocks to their posteriors, effectively mooning everybody on Capitol Hill.

A Roll Call photographer spotted similarly undressed protesters (above).

Harry Christmas, Everyone. Congressional aides, Capitol Hill workers and reporters spent much of their weekend (the second in a row!) on the Hill as Senators continued to debate end-of-year legislation. And one of the unfortunate consequences of all that hard work (aside from a lack of sleep) is that many Hillites haven’t found time to get their holiday shopping done.

That means the Senate Gift Shop just might have its best fourth quarter ever, as HOH hears many people stuck in the Senate the past few weeks are planning to buy their gifts on Capitol Hill.

“Staff are now saying we’ll be having a ‘Harry Christmas — and a Harry Christmas is not a cheery Christmas,— one GOP aide joked, referring to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

The aide noted that his Christmas cards might even tie into the debate. “If it takes us [through] Christmas day to defeat this bill, I’ll be sending relatives cards that say, ‘As my Christmas gift to you, we defeated the Democrats’ health care bill so you can keep your doctor,’— he said.

HOH left a message on Friday with a U.S. Capitol Historical Society spokeswoman to see if they already had seen an uptick in sales, but didn’t hear back by press time.

Emily Cadei and Jessica Brady contributed to this report.

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