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Heard on the Hill: Kennedy’s Baby Puke and Doughnut-Scarfing

Here’s one part of political life that Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) probably won’t miss when he retires from Congress this year: puking babies.

[IMGCAP(1)]That’s an occupational hazard, apparently, in a job for which baby-kissing is a requirement. In a profile of Kennedy in the March issue of Rhode Island Monthly magazine, a reporter witnesses a 7-month-old throw up on the Congressman’s carpet of his Washington office.

Kennedy, according to the story, handled the spit-up without blinking an eye, reassuring the “mortified” mom — who was trying to clean up the mess herself — that “they have folks here to do that.” The family was visiting Kennedy’s office to lobby on behalf of wounded veterans.

Another wacky detail from the otherwise straightforward and earnest profile: The reporter, Mark Arsenault, watched Kennedy “wipe out a box of glazed doughnuts in an hour.”

“He’s always had a thing for glazed doughnuts,” Arsenault told HOH. “He just chewed his way right through it.” And Kennedy might love his pastries, but he’s not stingy with them — Arsenault says Kennedy offered him one during the interview, although he refused (“I like them a little too much,” he confesses).

In a strange coincidence, doughnuts played a starring role in another story that Arsenault wrote about Kennedy. In a 2004 Providence Journal profile, the reporter describes a scene in which Kennedy gives an impromptu outdoor tour of a historic cemetery while holding the glazed doughnut that he’d been munching on. The sweet apparently attracted a swarm of yellow jackets, which rewarded Kennedy with three stings.

Her Hips Don’t Lie — They Advocate. Colombian-born singer Shakira already has successfully crossed over into the English-speaking pop music market — and if you followed her around Washington on Monday, you might have thought she had crossed into the world of diplomacy as well.

In the morning, Shakira (full name: Shakira Isabel Mebarak Ripoll) met with President Barack Obama and several of his advisers at the White House, chatting about everything from education to immigration policy. Then in the afternoon, she joined World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick at World Bank headquarters to launch a $300 million initiative aimed at expanding early childhood development programs in Latin American countries.

The singer (wearing a red sleeveless dress paired with a black belt, black tights and black ankle boots) spoke about the new program at a town hall forum, saying that she and Obama “talked about our shared commitment” to early childhood education and that she hopes to continue to work with the president “to implement his vision.”

And Shakira plans to continue her advocacy efforts outside the U.S., she said. “We will ensure that every head of state in Latin America understands the value of early childhood education,” she said.

Shakira drew a huge crowd at the World Bank. Several hundred people showed up for the town hall meeting, alongside dozens of journalists, including Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren and several affiliates from Spanish-speaking news outlets. (And giving her diplomatic skills some street cred, the singer answered questions in both English and Spanish at a press conference following the town hall.)

Even Zoellick seemed impressed with the turnout, telling Shakira that he holds similar town hall events with his own employees “and maybe get about a tenth the people you brought.”

“But that’s because people ask about pay and benefits and that sort of stuff,” he joked.

Battle of the Beefcakes? We hope Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is enjoying his reign as the Senate’s best-looking Member — because in just a few months’ time, he might be in for a challenge. Now that Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.) has thrown his hat in the ring for the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh, Brown’s status as chairman of the chamber’s Hunky Caucus is in jeopardy.

Ellsworth’s lantern-jawed good looks have long been noted: He was among
the subjects of a 2006 article in the Washington Post marveling at the pulchritude of that cycle’s Democratic candidates, and The Hill newspaper put him at the top of its 2007 “50 Most Beautiful” list.

Whether you’re on “Team Brad” or “Team Scott,” there really aren’t any losers, female Hill denizens say. “I’m not worried about the Brown-Ellsworth beefcake battle; in fact, I encourage it,” one Senate-watcher tells HOH. “Preferably shirtless.”

Overheard on the Hill. “I want to thank everyone who tweeted birthday wishes over the weekend. The Shimkus clan has never been real big into birthdays.”

— Rep. John Shimkus, in a bittersweet message posted Monday morning on Twitter. The Illinois Republican turned 52 on Sunday. Happy Birthday, Congressman!

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