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Heard on the Hill: Clay’s Divorce Drama

Tuesday wasn’t Garner’s first time in D.C. — the West Virginia native is a frequent visitor to the nation’s capital, and counts Georgetown and the National Zoo among her favorite haunts. And she could soon be back — Garner and Affleck also are on the guest list for Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, although she told HOH she is unsure if she’ll attend.

“Ben will definitely be there,” she promised.

Huddling With a Legend. That was Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino popping into Sen. Dick Durbin’s office on Tuesday, causing nudges and autograph requests from even typically blasé Capitol staffers.

HOH hears the legendary Miami Dolphin (and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” star) was in town to talk about autism issues with Members of Congress, including the Illinois Democrat. Marino founded the Dan Marino Foundation after his son was diagnosed with autism.

We hear Marino and Durbin didn’t have much time for football chat, but rather talked about Marino’s push for federal funding for residential programs for autism victims and Durbin’s autism legislation.

Playing the President. So how does one prepare for a role as President Barack Obama?

Easy — visit YouTube. That’s what local theater actor Keith Chappelle did, anyway.

“YouTube was actually one of my best friends,” said Chappelle, who starred as Obama in a recent New York stage production. “I went on YouTube and watched some of his speeches and got a good idea of him.”

Chappelle, who just wrapped up a gig as the title character in the Shakespeare Theatre Co.’s production of “Ion,” portrayed then-Sen. Obama in “Obama Drama,” which consisted of several 10-minute skits focusing on various areas of Obama’s life.

Chappelle is a dead ringer for Obama — he’s tall, thin, African-American and has rather prominent ears. But while Obama is generally considered a cool character, Chappelle portrayed him in a panic, upset because he’s misplaced his American flag lapel pin before a big speech.

“It basically involved him in a hotel searching frantically for the pin, and calling his wife and her helping him over the phone try to find his pin, and finally deciding to go on without it,” Chappelle recalled.

The show originally was staged just before the presidential election, with Chappelle recalling a “kind of electricity in the moment” among the actors because it was unclear whether Obama would win. During the inauguration, the actors (most of whom, like Chappelle, were Obama supporters) came back for a set of special performances.

“That was very interesting. It was very different, because the anticipation wasn’t in the air,” Chappelle said. “Different jokes were landing.”

Overheard on the Hill. “I said, ‘Are you Sen. Richard Burr?’ and he said, ‘Absolutely, I am.’ ‘What are you doing with all that money?’ ‘Well, we’re buying mattresses to put it all in.’”

— Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, practicing his stand-up act by describing a recent visit to the ATM, while speaking at the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner on Friday. Kaine was joking about the North Carolina GOP Senator, who admitted that he had urged his family to withdraw money during last fall’s banking crisis.

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