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Heard on the Hill: Gillibrand’s Real Diet Secret

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s new trim figure is attracting attention, and one of her fellow New Yorkers has a sneaky theory about how she’s dropped the pounds.

[IMGCAP(1)]Gillibrand (who HOH reported has shed at least 20 pounds recently) claims her get-slim secret is sensible diet and exercise, but Rep. Anthony Weiner (D) had another theory when the two met after last week’s State of the Union address. Their paths crossed in Statuary Hall as Gillibrand walked away from an interview, and Weiner stopped to compliment her.

“Are those anxiety pounds?— Weiner asked Gillibrand, who is facing a potentially feisty primary match from former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (Tenn.).

Like any woman questioned about her weight, Gillibrand was modest. “I’m trying to get off my baby weight,— she answered. (Her youngest son is about 20 months old.)

Apparently unaware that a woman’s weight loss is no laughing matter, Weiner couldn’t resist a joke.

“Really? Are you picking guys from Tennessee out from between your teeth as you go?— he queried.

Gillibrand laughed good-naturedly, but HOH couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t actually answer him.

Looks like she’s found another way to burn calories: ducking awkward questions.

Scott Wants to Hug Lance. Sen.-elect Scott Brown ran on a rather anti-Washington platform, but there are some perks to the job that he’s all too happy to reap.

HOH was intrigued by a throwaway line in an interview that the Massachusetts Republican gave to the Associated Press last week. In the report, Brown confesses that he sees serving in Congress as a means not just to lower taxes or whittle down the deficit but to spend some quality time with über-cyclist Lance Armstrong.

“I would love to go on a bike ride with Lance Armstrong, just for those few hours,— Brown told the AP. “Just like to say hi, just to like hug him.—

And if he doesn’t get to fulfill his fantasies of making time with the seven-time Tour de France winner, Brown might want to hit up another famous face to be his workout buddy: his cousin, President Barack Obama.

Brown and Obama are actually 10th cousins, according to a report in the Boston Globe. A genealogical group looked up the family trees of both men and found they shared some branches. Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, and Brown’s mother, Judith Ann Rugg, share an ancestor, Richard Singletary of Haverhill, who died in 1687.

Maybe the Obamas should set an extra place at their family dinners now that Uncle Scott’s in town.

Helping Haiti. It might lack the Hollywood glitz of George Clooney’s all-star telethon, but staffers who work for the Florida Congressional delegation are hoping they’ll be able to raise some much-needed funds for Haitian earthquake relief at the Capitol Lounge this week.

The bipartisan group of staffers is hosting a fundraiser from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Pennsylvania Avenue dive bar, with proceeds benefiting the Red Cross’s humanitarian efforts on the island nation.

Organizer Mari Cabrera told HOH that the Red Cross will set up a table to collect donations, and anyone who gives any amount of money (preferably via check or credit card) will be given a wristband. Patrons wearing the wristband will be offered exclusive drink specials.

Cabrera said the idea for the fundraiser came about after several staffers from Sunshine State delegation offices found themselves talking about how they could help with the relief efforts.

“We figured the best way would be to raise money,— she said. “So we reached out to every office and were able to get everyone to agree to host.—

Cabrera noted that while Members gave permission for their names to be used, the event is entirely staff-driven and was organized on everybody’s personal time.

Take Dat. Forget health care, the economy or climate change — Rep. Charlie Melancon’s Senate campaign on Friday took time to recognize a far more pressing problem: the National Football League’s “heavy-handed legal posturing— against the “Who Dat— nation.

The Louisiana Democrat, who is running against GOP Sen. David Vitter, e-mailed campaign supporters asking them to sign his online petition demanding the NFL stop sending cease-and-desist letters to Louisiana stores and merchants selling items emblazoned with the phrase “Who Dat.— (HOH notes this also allows his campaign to gather supporters’ contact information.)

The phrase “Who Dat— is the chant of support favored by fans of the Super Bowl-bound New Orleans Saints, and NFL officials claim the league owns the rights to it. But Melancon argues no one “owns ‘WHO DAT’ except for the Who Dat Nation.—

“For all of us long-time Saints fans, it’s doubly frustrating to see the NFL swoop in just as soon as our team breaks out into the national spotlight,— Melancon writes. “This year has been special precisely because of how much passion Saints fans have shown for our team. We’ve been there since the beginning, and no one’s going to tell us to get off one stop away from the end.—

Melancon spokesman Jeff Giertz told HOH that more than 700 people signed the petition within the first hour that it was posted. The campaign hadn’t heard from the NFL by Friday afternoon, but Giertz promised it would send the petition to the league before the Super Bowl.

And not surprisingly, he predicted a Saints win on Sunday.

“I think everybody in Louisiana, Charlie Melancon included, thinks the Saints are going all the way,— he said.

Overheard on the Hill. “Mi familia came 2 Miami 2 run ING halfmarathon early Sunday. I have babysitting duties 4 our 7 month old grandbaby.—

— Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) in a tweet Friday. Fun fact: The Congresswoman and her granddaughter, Morgan Elizabeth, share a July 15 birthday.

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