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Heard on the Hill: Bennett’s Pulp Fiction Addiction?

Sen. Bob Bennett looks like a man who is looking forward to post-Senate life. An HOH tipster spotted the Utah Republican on Thursday toting around a decidedly non-wonky read.

As he walked the halls of the Capitol, Bennett carried a copy of Clive Cussler’s beach-read thriller, “The Wrecker.” According to the write-up on Amazon, the plot follows a turn-of-the-last-century detective chasing a criminal who sabotages railroad facilities and features “many thrills and much diabolical cleverness.”

We bet Bennett, who was ousted from his spot on the GOP ticket in May, might just be a little grateful to have more time to read page-turning novels instead of boring briefing books.

Gingrich Has Big Ideas but Only a Small Crowd

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich might be testing the waters for a possible presidential run in 2012, but the Georgia Republican certainly doesn’t draw the kind of crowds that his potential rival, Sarah Palin, does.

Only a handful of people turned out for the signing of Gingrich’s latest book, “To Save America,” at the downtown Borders bookstore on Friday. That’s in contrast to Palin’s book signings, which sometimes draw thousands of fans.

Before Gingrich’s event got under way, only six people stood in line in hopes of seeing Gingrich, with the rest of the crowd made up of Gingrich’s staff, Borders staffers and journalists.

The bookstore had set up a podium from which Gingrich was supposed to give his speech, but since it was a “workable crowd,” he opted to speak with each person one-on-one. (Eventually, just over a dozen more people trickled in.)

Gingrich said his book addresses President Barack Obama’s “secular and socialist machine” and provides solutions to the problems facing America. Asked whether he was planning to run in 2012, he said he would announce his decision in February or March 2011.

Christensen’s Taxing Matters

HOH is guessing that Del. Donna Christensen was thrilled to receive a big tax refund recently from the Internal Revenue Service — and we’re also guessing the Virgin Islands Democrat was not at all thrilled to find out she had to give it back.

On her latest personal financial disclosure form, Christensen reports a new liability of $15,000 to $50,000 to the “federal government” for “federal taxes.” Christensen didn’t forget to pay her taxes — her spokesman says she received an IRS refund, only to have the agency reconsider and ask for the money back (which she is doing, her spokesman adds).

It is very rare for Members to report tax liabilities on their financial disclosure forms, although Christensen has done so before. Last year, she reported a liability of $5,000 to $15,000 to the Virgin Islands government for “property taxes.”

The IRS wouldn’t comment, saying the agency doesn’t talk about individual taxpayers.

Harper: No Laziness About La-Z-Boy

As lifelong fans of trashy soaps and even trashier reality shows, HOH has long appreciated La-Z-Boy, the company that gave America the revolutionary upholstered recliner perfect for “nature’s way of relaxing,” according to its website.

And it seems Rep. Gregg Harper shares our La-Z-Boy love, as the Mississippi Republican saluted the company on the House floor last week.

But Harper noted that La-Z-Boy isn’t just about lounging around; the company has “maintained a skilled workforce providing optimism for many hardworking Mississippians,” he said.

Harper specifically marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of La-Z-Boy South, a production plant located in Newton, Miss., employing 600 people and producing 1,100 pieces of custom-built furniture each day. He even shared some interesting tidbits about the Newton plant, including that the factory’s first recliner, produced on June 6, 1960, was raffled off at a local supermarket.

The facility’s 10 millionth chair came off the line in 2003, he added.

Huh. Guess La-Z-Boy isn’t so lazy.

NRA and Dems: One More Round

The relationship between House Democrats and the National Rifle Association might be strained, but the gun lobby is still pulling the trigger on a bipartisan event tonight.

The NRA put Dems in an awkward spot when it pushed for an exemption from campaign finance disclosure laws, only to have the deal blow up in Democrats’ faces and threaten to sink the DISCLOSE Act.

But tonight, the NRA’s federal affairs office on Capitol Hill is the setting for a “Bipartisan Freshman Class Laser Shoot.”

The evening, co-hosted by Reps. John Boccieri (D-Ohio) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), will allow members of their class to use the NRA’s laser technology for target practice.

Boccieri Chief of Staff Anthony Trevena says the event was on the books long before the dustup and insists it’s “just an opportunity for the class to relax and socialize.”

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