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Heard on the Hill: He’s Baaaack

Actor Wilmer Valderrama came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, just more than four months after his last appearance in the halls of Congress — and this time, he remembered to wear the proper color socks.

[IMGCAP(1)]Valderrama appeared with Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and several other Members at a press conference to officially launch Voto Latino’s campaign urging Hispanics to participate in the 2010 U.S. Census. Valderrama last came to Capitol Hill in the fall, also touting his work with the nonprofit group — and during that visit, Becerra poked fun at the actor for wearing white socks with his dark suit.

“I forgot the white socks this time,” Valderrama joked Wednesday, noting that he and the Congressman share a joke that the fashion faux pas is the actor’s tribute to the late singer Michael Jackson. “I think it’s a good look — they obviously disagree.”

Valderrama joined Becerra and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and Mike Honda (D-Calif.) to introduce Voto Latino’s new census-themed public service announcements. And since Valderrama has become such a familiar face on Capitol Hill, HOH wondered whether he might make a run for Congress himself.

“I don’t know, man,” Valderrama told HOH, laughing. “I don’t know if I’ll be running for office, but I definitely want to be part of the big picture. You’ll see me a lot more around here.”

Vegas, Baby. President Barack Obama and Las Vegas: Let’s call them the new Brangelina (Las Obamas? Vebama?). They’re on, they’re off; they’re making up, they’re in a tiff.

“We’re on an emotional roller coaster with this man,” says David Cherry, spokesman for Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.).

Obama ticked off lawmakers from Sin City on Tuesday by warning that people shouldn’t go “blow a bunch of cash in Vegas” when they’re trying to save for college. That remark came almost a year to the day from when he first angered Nevadans by telling bailout recipients not to take the bucks to Vegas — an insult that sent the president into damage-control mode and precipitated a trip to Vegas last May, in which he gave the city props.

And although Obama backtracked on his most recent Vegas-bashing, he’ll have a chance to do more: He’s scheduled to take a trip to the maligned city later this month.

Cherry said Berkley’s staff has been joking about ways the president could atone for the insult. “Maybe he could do a David Blaine-type stunt where he does the people’s business for a few days while suspended above the Strip,” he suggested.

Here’s the timeline:

• 2007 and 2008 — During the campaign, Obama visits Las Vegas frequently, to the delight of Democratic lawmakers.

• Feb. 10, 2009 — Obama’s first snub, in which he urges Wall Street types
not to spend those taxpayer dollars in Vegas.

• May 2009 — It’s time to kiss and make up, as Obama visits Sin City and declares that everyone should have a piece of the “Las Vegas dream.”

• Feb. 2, 2010 — Uh-oh, there’s trouble in paradise again: Obama suggests that people saving for college shouldn’t spend money in Vegas.

• Feb. 18, 2010 — Obama is slated to visit Las Vegas for an event with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Our suggestion: Bring flowers. And quarters.

Name (Another) One for the Gipper. Gipper-lovers claim that more than 3,000 sites in the U.S. are named after President Ronald Reagan — but they’re angling for one more, and it’s a big one.

Organizers are hoping to name a mountain peak “Mount Reagan” in honor of the late California Republican, and they’re kicking off their efforts this weekend, in honor of what would have been Reagan’s 99th birthday on Saturday.

“There’s something bold, daring … even muscular about a mountain peak,” says historian Craig Shirley, who is heading to Nevada to give the keynote speech at the campaign’s launch event.

Shirley, who penned “Rendezvous with Destiny: Ronald Reagan and the Campaign That Changed America,” pooh-poohed those who complain about the surfeit of Reagan tributes as “petty” and noted that Nevada is the only state without a landmark dedicated to the 40th prez.

Premature Eulogization. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was eager to eulogize ex-Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) — until, that is, he realized Kolbe wasn’t dead.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) proposed a measure Wednesday on the floor to name a post office after the 11-term former Congressman. She waxed so eloquent that Hoyer apparently thought the chamber was paying tribute to a fallen comrade. In somber tones, Hoyer wound up for a heartfelt tribute. “I had not heard of the death of my friend and colleague,” he began.

Almost immediately, someone gave him a sign that Kolbe was still alive. “Oh,” Hoyer said. “You’re naming a post office? I withdraw my remarks.”

Bad Day, Congressman? That Rep. Ralph Hall is a card.

An HOH tipster overheard the Texas Republican share a cringe-inducing tale of woe when someone asked him how he was doing.

“I’m tired. My knees hurt. My daughter got on a motorcycle with a guy who’s tattooed. She’s pregnant,” he informed the man. “Other than that, things are fine.”

Yikes, sounds like Hall was having one heck of a no-good, horrible, very bad day.

But hold the sympathy cards — Hall was just joshing. “His knees are fine, and he doesn’t even have a daughter,” Hall Chief of Staff Janet Poppleton tells HOH. “He jokes like that all the time.”

Reality Check on Brown. Now that reality is settling in for Democrats that Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is indeed bound for Capitol Hill, where he will be the supermajority-squashing vote in the Senate, how are they coping?

Drugs and counseling, apparently.

During a House Rules Committee meeting last week, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) confessed that he’s turned to mind-altering substances. “I’m on new medication,” he said during banter about the election fallout.

And Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y,) joked (we think) that she, oh, has found an unconventional way to deal with the blow.

“Intense therapy,” she said.

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