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Heard on the Hill: A Game That Two Can Play

Think bipartisanship is dead? Think again.

HOH hears Democratic and Republican House staffers formed an unlikely alliance this weekend to save a small country near the Mediterranean Sea from the perilous ambitions of the evil Zagorias Federation.

[IMGCAP(1)]And to think, all you did was watch that marathon of “Jersey Shore.—

House staffers Kristina Spiegel, who works for Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), and Kurt Bardella, press secretary to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), teamed up to defeat the classic arcade game “Time Crisis 3— at the Dave & Buster’s in Bethesda, Md. As staffers from a bipartisan group of offices looked on, Spiegel and Bardella crushed the federation and rescued the good people of the tiny nation of Lukano from annihilation.

Spiegel led the charge in the shoot ’em up battle, while Bardella served to provide “ample cover,— he recounted to HOH. “She is a native Texan and, therefore, can clearly shoot,— Bardella joked.

The dramatic victory wasn’t without its dangers, however: The fight took close to an hour and required untold amounts of financial resources. “We exhausted both of our entire reserve of Dave & Buster’s video game credit,— Bardella said.

While Spiegel and Bardella’s triumph certainly was historic, the gathering actually was held in honor of Scott Tranter, a staffer for Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) who is heading to Connecticut for a consulting venture, HOH hears.

Just think: If staffers can band together to defeat the frightening goals of the Zagorias Federation, certainly they can find a way to tackle health care reform.

A Wonder-ful Day. Martin Luther King Jr. might have a federal holiday all to himself, but he has to share a Congressional shout-out with musician Stevie Wonder.

Legislation introduced last week by House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) honors King’s contributions as well as Wonder’s song “Happy Birthday,— itself a tribute to the civil rights leader. The bill notes that Wonder and his song, which debuted 30 years ago, were instrumental (get it?) in the campaign to make King’s birthday a national holiday.

The bill has a handful of co-sponsors, including civil rights champion Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

A New Cup o’ Joe. Being a House staffer isn’t always easy — the work is tough, the pay is measly and the hours are long.

But as Congress gets back into the swing of things this week, House aides can take comfort in knowing that a new pick-me-up is headed their way — and those aides even had a hand in its creation.

Restaurant Associates is scheduled to unveil Capitol Roast today, a new coffee blend that’s inspired by the unique tastes of caffeine-loving House staffers, according to Mary Bowman, the vendor’s regional director.

Capitol Roast, which features a lighter, smoother flavor than the previous House blend, will only be available on the House side of the Capitol, Bowman said. “They have something that nobody else has right now. I know people like exclusivity,— Bowman said.

Seattle-based Pura Vida Coffee designed Capitol Roast specifically for caffeine-addicted Hillites, relying on consumer surveys and other feedback to brew a milder blend than the stronger, darker one previously available in House cafeterias.

Like the old blend, Capitol Roast is a fair-trade, organic, shade-grown coffee, in line with the cafeterias’ eco-friendly goals, said Jack Vanstory, a national sales manager for the coffee company. But the new brew is hopefully more in line with House staffers’ tastes, Vanstory said, describing it as a light roast with medium body and low acidity — meaning it lacks the strong, burnt bite of the previous blend.

RA officials will even be offering 8-ounce complimentary portions for staffers to try today in all House cafeterias, Bowman said — leading HOH to believe there will be more than a few hyper staffers roaming the House hallways today.

Trafi-Can’t Hardly Wait. Denim suits have yet to make a comeback, but the man who made them his trademark might be: Former Rep. Jim Traficant, fresh from his seven-year stint in federal prison for bribery and racketeering, is planning to make his big return to Washington on Feb. 13.

The Ohio Democrat will discuss his “political platform and his future,— at a conference sponsored by the American Free Press, a populist newspaper that bills itself as an antidote to the corporate-controlled mainstream media.

Peter Papaheraklis, the paper’s events manager, says that Traficant has been writing a column for the paper since being released from prison in September and that people are eager to hear what the colorful former Congressman has to say. “His message is congruent with ours about what’s wrong with this country and the direction we’re going,— Papaheraklis told HOH.

HOH couldn’t reach Traficant through a spokesman, but the zany Ohioan (who HOH is thrilled to note is still sporting an improbably tufted ’do) recently told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he’s angling for another run for Congress. He told the paper he has “volunteers circulating petitions in three Congressional districts— and revealed that he’s still got the magic Traficant way with a quote: “I’m gonna run,— he told the paper. “I don’t know where I’m going to run. I don’t know what I’m going to run as. But I’m running for, not against. And I’m gonna ask ’em to surrender nice. If they don’t, then I’m gonna take ’em to the mat and try to beat the hell out of ’em.—

In other words, beam him back!

Overheard on the Hill. “Just spoke to Curt Schilling — he is doing a great job in MA but we miss him in AZ!!—

— Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), tweeting Tuesday about the former Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher (shown above) who stumped for GOP Massachusetts Senate candidate Scott Brown, running against Democrat Martha Coakley — who insulted Schilling by (gasp!) calling him a fan of the New York Yankees.

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