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Heard on the Hill: A Friend Indeed

After Rep. Patrick Kennedy crashed his car into a Capitol Hill barricade late one night in 2006 (and subsequently entered a rehabilitation facility for prescription drug abuse), the Rhode Island Democrat found a friend in then-Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), a recovering alcoholic.

And when Ramstad presented Kennedy with an award at a charity bash Tuesday night for his efforts on mental health issues, Kennedy recalled the bipartisan friendship that he found in Ramstad during that tough time in 2006.

“I got in this little car accident, and it made a little news,” Kennedy joked, adding that Ramstad told him: “‘Don’t worry about it. I’ve been where you are.’ And I said, ‘I don’t think you’ve quite been where I am.’”

But Ramstad — who called Kennedy “the little brother I never had” — stayed by Kennedy’s side throughout his recovery and return to Capitol Hill. And that put Ramstad’s own political career at risk, Kennedy said.

“I offered to go in and campaign against him, if it helped him,” Kennedy joked.

Kennedy was honored during the annual fundraising gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for N Street Village, a D.C. charity that helps homeless and low-income women by providing housing and other support. Kennedy praised his fellow Members of Congress in attendance for making it to the charity bash — noting several even stayed until the bitter end when he received his award.

“It’s amazing that any of them have shown up,” Kennedy said. “Believe us, I go to these events. None of us come to these things. This is a big deal ... and to stay for the whole dinner?”

Jessica's Life Lessons. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and other backers of universal education legislation were thrilled to have actress Jessica Alba on hand at a press conference to tout their bill, but the grade-school kids at the event seemed confused on one celebrity point.

Lowey was enthusing about Alba’s support for initiatives to bring better education to African kids and told the fourth-graders at the Tuesday event that “she’s travelled with Bono! You’ve heard of Bono!”

Actually, most of them probably hadn’t. While the U2 frontman has plenty of grown-up fans, the kids were probably more familiar with tween-pop singer Miley Cyrus than the alter ego of Paul Hewson, whose band’s breakthrough album debuted in 1980 (making him practically prehistoric to them).

Most of the kids nodded politely at Lowey’s statement, but a few just looked confused.

Alba, who looked demure (and thin) in a pale-pink cardigan and trousers, seemed more interested in heaping praise on Lowey. “Even before I had the honor of meeting her last year, I had heard of her leadership. ... I am humbled by your work,” Alba said.

Alba was in the Capitol to launch 1GOAL, an initiative tied to the World Cup aimed at bringing universal education to Africa, where the games are being held in June.

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