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Heard on the Hill: Write It Right

Capitol Hill denizens generally are considered to be a well-educated, intelligent, sophisticated bunch, but staffers who work for the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms think at least some Congressional aides could use a refresher course on their basic writing skills.

We’re talking, er, writing about commas and verbs. The kind of stuff you were supposed to learn in elementary school.

The Senate Office of Education and Training is scheduled on Friday to host the first of six clinics designed to help staffers with common writing mistakes. According to an e-mail sent to legislative directors last week, the sessions will last an hour and a half and cover basics from “Using the Comma Rules” on Friday to “Choosing Between Active and Passive Voice” on March 12.

“Do you lie awake at night wondering how to improve your staff’s writing skills?” the e-mail reads (although we hope most Senate staffers don’t suffer from chronic insomnia because of improper capitalization). Sergeant-at-Arms spokeswoman Becky Daugherty tells HOH that the writing clinics are being offered because in-house surveys show “offices are constantly looking to improve the quality of their correspondence.”

In other sessions, staffers will learn about commonly confused words (Capitol/capital, we’re looking at you!), plurals, possessives and how to make subjects and verbs agree.

Staffers sent to the workshops shouldn’t fret — HOH supposes that mastering the rules of grammar is a lot less complicated than grasping the utterly confusing subject that is Senate parliamentary procedure.

Congressional Ski Weekend. It can be tough to head back to the freezing confines of Capitol Hill after the winter break, but at least three Members of Congress took advantage of their final weekend away from Washington by hitting the slopes (while raising some campaign cash).

Sen. Bob Bennett held his annual “Winter Weekend” event in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 8-10, raising about $100,000 for his upcoming race, a campaign spokesman tells HOH.

The Utah Republican usually holds the event to benefit Snow Political Action Committee, his leadership fundraising committee, but the money raised this year went directly to his own campaign because he is facing re-election, the spokesman said.

Bennett wasn’t the only Member raising funds out on the slopes: Kentucky Rep. Ed Whitfield (R) was scheduled to hold a similar getaway in Vail, Colo., on Jan. 7-9, and Rep. Diana DeGette held her own fundraising event in Vail on Jan. 8, a spokesman confirmed.

The Colorado Democrat’s ski trip took place at the Sonnenalp Resort, and HOH imagines DeGette and her supporters had a good time, even if they didn’t bother zig-zagging down the mountain. Along with plenty of powder, the resort offers ice skating, ballooning, at least five restaurants and a spa.

Dakota Double Date. Sen. Byron Dorgan is getting a taste of the post-Congress good life — and he seems to be getting a lesson from someone who knows how former Members roll. An HOH tipster spotted the North Dakota Democrat (who just announced he’s retiring after 29 years in office) out catching a Saturday afternoon movie with his pal, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.).

The Dakotans, accompanied by two women whom our tipster assumed to be their wives, were catching the 1 p.m. showing of “Crazy Heart,” the new Jeff Bridges flick about a boozy country musician, at the AMC Loews theater in Georgetown.

Perhaps Dorgan will have more time for fun double dates after his term ends this year.

Sex and Our City. Here’s a stimulus plan that Republicans and Democrats alike can enjoy: A group aimed at boosting Washington tourism is linking up with noted sexologist Dr. Ruth to promote the romantic side of our city.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, city officials and representatives of Destination DC on Thursday plan to kick off a monthlong “stimulus plan” to boost local hospitality business — and Washingtonians’ libidos.

Destination DC says the initiative was inspired by the first couple, whose cozy date nights at local restaurants have made headlines.

D.C. isn’t usually thought of as a terribly amorous place, admits Chris Gieckel, the group’s spokesman. “We wanted to change that,” he says.

Look for steamy hotel and restaurant packages, as well as a Web site to help the romance-challenged plan hot dates.

Overheard on the Hill.“Had 2 put our dog, Bard, 2 sleep. 2 sick, old, no hope 4 recovery. So hard 2 do. He was a good ole dog. Tough guy, Dexter, my hubby, cried.”

— Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) tweeting the sad story of her beloved family pet on Monday. RIP, Bard.

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