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Heard on the Hill: Walz Is ImPRESSed With Book

Hey, everybody loves giveaways ‘ even Members of Congress.

An HOH spy eyed Rep. Tim Walz coming out of the Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday ‘totally excited’ about receiving a copy of ‘Toxic Talk,’ the new book by Bill Press. The liberal radio talk-show host was a guest and gave out his book.

Our spy says when he was leaving the Caucus meeting, the giddy Minnesota Democrat held up the tome to a few reporters and remarked, ‘Well, I got a copy of Bill Press’ book. That was different.’

Alfresco Al Franken

A spy eyed Sen. Al Franken enjoying a Mexican feast at La Loma on Tuesday evening. Several members of his staff, including one visiting from the North Star State, joined the Minnesota Democrat, according to his office. We hear Franken enjoyed his meal on the patio and was apparently having a great time.

‘He was laughing really loudly,’ a spy says.

While Franken dined on Massachusetts Avenue, Larry Leibowitz was seen at a reception at the Capitol hosted by the New York Stock Exchange. Don’t know who he is? He’s the older brother of ‘Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart and the chief operating officer for NYSE Euronext, certainly the type of gig that sounds like it’s a big deal.

A spy says Leibowitz (Stewart’s birth name, by the way) seems like a nice guy. ‘Once somebody tells you they’re related, you can certainly see the resemblance,’ the spy says.

Dr. Baird’s Remedy for Healing the United States

What sort of things would Members of Congress do if they didn’t worry about polling numbers, party infighting or special interests?

Rep. Brian Baird has a few ideas.

The Washington Democrat shares his thoughts on fixing most of the nation’s problems in a new book, ‘Character, Politics and Responsibility: Restarting the Heart of the American Public.’ (Get it, it’s like CPR. And Baird is a psychologist by trade!)

Baird, who is retiring at the end of this term, tells HOH that he has been working on the tome for four years, pulling together his ideas for fixing Congressional gridlock, the tax system, health care, entitlement spending and pretty much every other big problem that America faces.

‘Somewhere in the book, I list all the challenges, and it’s pretty depressing,’ he says, laughing. ‘It’s a very sober analysis … but we then move to solutions, because that’s what we have to do.’

Baird says he hopes the book will go viral, prompting people to transcend political talking points and actually begin addressing problems. He hasn’t shown any of his Congressional colleagues his finished book yet, he says, but he hopes they’ll listen, too.

‘I’ve run ideas by people who’ve said, ‘I think that’s exactly right, but I’m afraid to say it,” Baird says.

Piece of the Pie

There’s mudslinging ‘ and now there’s doughslinging.

Capitol Hill pizza joint We, the Pizza played host to the first-ever Capital Hill Pizza Toss on Tuesday night. Owner Spike Mendelsohn was on hand for the toss, which kicked off the countdown to the Capital Food Fight, the annual foodie competition that sees celebrity chefs square off to raise money for the D.C. Central Kitchen.

During Tuesday’s toss, chefs from local hot spots BLT Steak, the Source and the Evening Star Cafe took pointers on flinging dough into the air from a member of the U.S. Pizza Team. Next year, organizers hope Members of Congress can attend for a bipartisan doughslinging showdown.

Of course, we’ll be seeing more of Mendelsohn: He’s among the chefs slated to appear on the upcoming season of ‘Top Chef: All Stars.’

Memo to Congress: We Need More Dirty Work

Making the rounds on Capitol Hill can be a dirty job. But if anybody can handle it, it’s Mike Rowe.

The star of the Discovery Channel show ‘Dirty Jobs’ came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to help kick off the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ ‘I Make America’ campaign, which promotes supporting U.S. manufacturing jobs through infrastructure investments.

Rowe ‘ who as part of his show normally does things like clean up animal poop, inspect sewers, gut fish and trap leeches ‘ says he wants to promote jobs that involve getting your hands dirty.

But not in the Washington sense, mind you. Rowe’s talking about actual dirt.

‘Coming home dirty was a badge of honor … until 20 years ago,’ Rowe says. ‘We’ve lost this outward association and a willingness to get dirty.’

While Rowe lobbies for dirt, two more celebs are expected to show up to push other causes on Capitol Hill today.

Musician Chuck Leavell, known for his stint with the Allman Brothers Band and playing keyboard for acts including the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton, will testify in the Senate about conserving family-owned forests.

Turns out Leavell is a certified tree grower in southern Georgia ‘ Mick Jagger has even called him ‘the Bono of trees.’

Over in the House, ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ author Elizabeth Gilbert will appear alongside Members of Congress to push the Uniting American Families Act, which would make it easier for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans to bring their foreign-born partners to the United States.

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