Heard on the Hill: Congressional Comedy/Comity, Take Two

Posted April 20, 2010 at 6:42pm

The annual Washington Press Club Foundation dinner might have been postponed because of record ice and snow in February, but the rescheduled event tonight promises to sizzle.

[IMGCAP(1)]Organizers say former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) and his “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski are still on board to emcee the evening, and the original lineup of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) as the evening’s Congressional entertainers still stands.

As for the Members, who traditionally perform stand-up comedy routines at the dinner, they’re keeping their best one-liners close to the vest … but still, audience members should expect some zingers.

“She’s been practicing a lot this week,” McCaskill spokeswoman Maria Speiser says. Most of the Senator’s jokes will target “D.C. culture,” she says (no shortage of fodder there), but some of the other speakers at the event might wind up targets, too. Look out, Rep. Pence! McCaskill has had the chance to bone up on her delivery skills at this year’s Gridiron dinner.

Pence is modest about his funnyman skills, but he’s still planning to pull out the comedic stops for a good cause — the dinner raises money to support young female and minority journalists. “When he was asked to speak, Congressman Pence’s first reaction was, ‘Who canceled?'” Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd says. “The Congressman is looking forward to being a part of honoring women journalists and raising important resources for the foundation’s internship and scholarship programs.”

And now that the weather is springier than it was in February when the dinner was initially planned, there’s no need to accessorize with snow boots.

After the Gridiron. Former National Football League running back Eddie George spoke on Capitol Hill on Tuesday — but the Heisman Trophy winner’s remarks had little to do with football, or even the usual athlete-on-the-Hill cause of the importance of physical fitness.

Nope, George spoke about landscape architecture and how it can improve urban areas.

Turns out that while the four-time Pro Bowler was still playing in the NFL, he earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture. Then he got a master’s degree in business administration and started up EDGE, his landscape architecture firm.

And when he came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, George appeared at a forum to help promote legislation that would provide federal grants to urban communities for parks and recreation projects. “At its essence, landscape architecture is about creating memorable places and coming up with creative solutions that are environmentally responsible and that bring a community’s vision to life,” George said.

Of course, the former Tennessee Titans star couldn’t help but mention his decorated NFL career, telling the audience in his opening remarks that “you may know me as a former NFL running back … or for destroying your Washington Redskins.”

Just a tip, Eddie: That’s not the way to make friends in this town.

Same Show, Different Cast. For “True Blood” actress Kristin Bauer, working in Hollywood and lobbying in D.C. aren’t all that dissimilar.

Bauer, who plays vampire Pam on the sexy HBO show, will appear at a rally against commercial whaling on the National Mall on Thursday. While Bauer joined up with the International Fund for Animal Welfare about a year ago to lobby on threats to whales such as climate change, she said she now has a new battle to fight: The Obama administration is considering agreeing to approve the rights of Japan, Norway and Iceland to hunt whales as long as the nations reduce the number of animals that they kill each year.

Bauer, who campaigned for President Barack Obama in 2008, said the would-be policy “just seemed like political insanity,” considering the U.S. has long supported a ban on whale hunting. “It’s got to be some political trade, but I’d like to get people aware of it,” she said.

“I’m slightly shocked, but I guess I shouldn’t be because that’s politics,” Bauer added. “And I’m in the same business, I’m in the entertainment business. And politics and the entertainment business are very similar. What you show the public is not [always] accurate.”

Bauer also will make her first trip to lobby on Capitol Hill — and her first trip to Washington since the eighth grade.

“It’s going to be, like, 36 hours,” Bauer said. “Super whirlwind.”

Spotted on the Hill. Actress-model Molly Sims came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday as part of lobbying efforts tied to World Malaria Day. HOH hears Sims met with Members to raise awareness about the worldwide effort to eradicate the disease.

She was also scheduled to appear at an anti-malaria event Tuesday night at the Library of Congress alongside D.C. United’s Clyde Simms and Princess Astrid of Belgium.

Also in town Tuesday were several members of the 2010 U.S. Olympic team. Several HOH spies spotted Olympians on Capitol Hill, including Gold Medal speed skater Shani Davis, who met with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Overheard on the Hill. “Obama just drove by my apartment … Kinda cool.”

— Lauren Conrad, former star of “The Hills,” sharing deep thoughts on Twitter about seeing the presidential motorcade during President Barack Obama’s Monday trip to Los Angeles.

Submit your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments here.

Can’t get enough HOH? Get a midday dose of fun and gossip with HOH’s One-Minute Recess, delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here — because everyone deserves more recess.