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Heard on the Hill: Vitter Goes From Hookergate to Gate-Crashing

As far as consolation prizes go, we’d say this one’s at least better than a toaster.

Out of the Spotlight. You would think a rock star wouldn’t be fazed about having his picture taken.

But Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in support of legislation requiring that radio stations pay artists when their music is played, apparently has been out of the spotlight long enough that it’s a novelty.

As a half-dozen or so shutterbugs gathered around Corgan before the hearing began, the singer appeared flustered, asking the assembled group whether he should pose as he would for the paparazzi.

Corgan noted that he rarely gets snapped anymore (the Pumpkins’ biggest hits were in the 1990s), relaying a story of how he was walking down a street in Los Angeles about a year ago when a paparazzo started photographing him. “It had been so long that I walked up to the guy and went, ‘Thank you, you made my day,’” Corgan joked.

While Corgan testified on artist performance rights, the music-focused hearing also brought about an odd debate between Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Dan Lungren (R-Calif.).

Memphis native Cohen referenced legendary singer Elvis Presley during his opening statement, noting that famed Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips was the first to play a Presley record.

But Lungren disputed who actually gave Presley his big break.

“I knew Dewey Phillips was important, but I though Ed Sullivan had something to do with it,” Lungren argued. “And Steve Allen.”

Easy, guys.

Silver Foxes. HOH smells a conspiracy here. We suspected that Senate leaders were just looking for a way to track down their Members ahead of votes when we saw a press release about legislation establishing a “Silver Alert” to be used to track down missing seniors.

Yes, we realize that the bill, sponsored by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) is aimed at helping elderly people suffering from dementia, which is not funny at all.

But still, with the average age of a Senator hovering above 60, it would come in awfully handy for locating the laggards ...

Let’s just hope they print a copy of the bill in large type.

Tribute to a Friend. Members introduce plenty of bills each year to officially name a month in awareness of a particular cause or disease. Think “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” or “Lasagna Awareness Month.” (We did not make this up.)

But on Tuesday, Reps. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) introduced such a bill in honor of a late friend, former Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-Wash.).

Under the measure, March officially would be “Deep-Vein Thrombosis Month,” and the second Tuesday of March will be DVT screening day. Dunn died in September 2007 from a pulmonary embolism resulting from DVT, a blood clot inside a deep vein.

Overheard on the Hill. “So I was the only woman member at the Armed Services Committee today but this might be too much.”

— Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), in a Twitter post on Tuesday afternoon. Pingree’s post linked to a photo of her official nameplate in the hearing room, which read, “Mr. Pingree.”

Dan Peake of GalleryWatch and Lauren W. Whittington contributed to this report.

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