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Heard on the Hill: Jackson Lee Wants Face Time

No one puts Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in the corner. Apparently not content with her third-row seat at a White House event on Wednesday, the Texas Democrat pushed her way through a crowd to score a face-to-face meeting with President Barack Obama.

[IMGCAP(1)]Jackson Lee was among the Members of Congress and others in the audience at the Rose Garden for remarks by Obama and Haitian President Rene Preval. But a witness says that as soon as the speeches were over and Obama came down from the podium to greet guests in the front row, Jackson Lee quickly hustled her way through the throng.

No other members of the audience, which included earthquake relief workers, search-and-rescue teams that helped in the aftermath of the quake and Haitian-American community leaders, made as bold an effort to score face time with the prez as the brash Congresswoman did, our witness says.

Jackson Lee is no shrinking violet. In a routine similar to the move that she pulled Wednesday in the Rose Garden, she is known to carefully stake out prime (i.e., camera-friendly) seating for the State of the Union address, so that she can get a (televised) moment with the president, and her floor speeches are legendary in Washington for their frequency, if not their riveting content.

Jackson Lee does seem to share at least one quality with the president with whom she so clearly wants to snag face time: audacity.

Good Sports. Herschel Walker has some advice for Members of Congress: Get moving.

The Heisman Trophy winner and former National Football League star (who recently entered the mixed martial arts circuit) joined dozens of athletes on Capitol Hill on Wednesday on behalf of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, lobbying for legislation promoting physical fitness. And Walker told HOH that Members themselves can find easy ways to get active by taking advantage of Capitol Hill.

“They have one of the best places to stay in shape,” Walker said. “Don’t take the elevators; take the stairs. Do the walking … use what you have.”

HOH caught up with Walker during his visit with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who showed the football star photos from his younger days in the civil rights movement. Lewis also showed off a gift that he received with his picture on a Wheaties box — leading Walker to point out that despite his 15 years in football, he never graced the front of the famed cereal box.

Other athletes visiting Capitol Hill included another legendary NFLer and Heisman winner, Tim Brown, who received the association’s lifetime achievement award at a reception Tuesday night. Golfer Annika Sorenstam, baseballer Tom Candiotti, softballer Jennie Finch, Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and former Ultimate Fighting champion Matt Hughes also were among those who joined the lobbying effort.

Senate Spouse Sighting. Senate wife Cindy McCain made a rare appearance on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, stopping by the Russell Senate Office Building rotunda to help promote an exhibit featuring photos of her recent humanitarian trip to Africa.

McCain lives full time in Arizona — although she joked that she spends “most of my time keeping up with my kids” — but she came to Washington to promote the exhibit, titled “Women Who Go Beyond: Success Stories from Africa.”

McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), visited the nations of Ghana and Sierra Leone with the ONE Campaign in January to study ways small investments in women have helped transform African communities. She told HOH that “women and children are basically throwaway items in Africa,” and if more isn’t done to help them, “we’re going to lose a generation of women.”

But a small investment to give one woman an education, for example, can transform lives. “If you educate a woman, you educate a village,” McCain said.

Also on hand were “Friday Night Lights” actress Connie Britton and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), whose chief of staff, Maura Keefe, visited Africa.

On a Mission. Fresh off a trip to Haiti (and a brief stop in Los Angeles for the Academy Awards), actor Sean Penn swung by Capitol Hill on Wednesday and spent time with a longtime pal, Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

The Ohio Democrat gave Penn, his teenage daughter Dylan and humanitarian activist David Peretz a tour of the Capitol, a Kucinich spokesman tells HOH.

The Jogging Caucus. New running buddy alert! An HOH tipster spotted Sen. John Thune out jogging along the National Mall on Wednesday morning — and it seems the famously fit South Dakota Republican has a new workout partner: Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who our tipster said was keeping pace just fine with his colleague.

The shorts-and-T-shirt-clad Senators might be on a two-man mission to disprove the old adage that Congress moves at a glacial pace.

Librarians Gone Wild. Librarians always seem to be shushing people, but on Tuesday night, Librarian of Congress James Billington caused a stir by bursting into song.

The usually low-key librarian became the star of the evening during a concert and reception at the Library of Congress celebrating country music. Late in the evening, Billington was invited to the stage, where singer John Rich intended to serenade him with “There Stands the Glass,” one of Billington’s favorite tunes from his Army days.

But the octogenarian librarian (try saying that 10 times fast) surprised everyone by performing the ditty himself, a capella. He was rewarded with a “standing ovation by the charmed audience,” a witness says.

Also in attendance were musician-Members Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). Hatch, an accomplished songwriter, brought two of his grandchildren — and scored a shout-out from Rich for his support for intellectual property rights.

Double Take. C-SPAN viewers might have gotten a feeling of déjà vu on Wednesday when Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) appeared to be doing his best impersonation of his father, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

The usually mild-mannered younger Kennedy’s fevered rant about Afghanistan and the lack of media attention bore all the hallmarks of his father’s impassioned floor speeches: waving arms, raised voice and heated words.

“We’re talking about war and peace … and no press, no press!” Kennedy exhorted the near-empty press gallery above him. “The press of the United States is not covering the most significant issue of national importance, and that’s the laying of lives down in the nation for the service of our country! It’s despicable, the national press corps right now.”

He also blasted the media for covering the scandal involving ex-Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) and allegations of sexual harassment.

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