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Heard on the Hill: A Mini Mistake

We’re sure Members of Congress are good at some things. Baby-kissing, maybe, or cutting ribbons with those giant funny scissors.

But parking? At least one Member needs a refresher course.

An HOH tipster snapped a picture of a Mini Cooper bearing Member plates identifying the owner as being from Texas’ 21st district (that would be GOP Rep. Lamar Smith) parked in an illegal spot near the corner of C and First streets Southeast.

The little car was halfway in a legal spot, with the rear half jutting out into no-man’s land, a configuration that normally would cause the city’s crack parking police to slap a ticket on the windshield faster than you could say “I’m so sorry, officer ...”

Sure, Members are technically permitted to park pretty much wherever they like while attending to official business (and we hear Smith was attending a working breakfast nearby), but most try to stay in the strictly legal spots to keep up appearances.

But perhaps even more surprising than a Member of Congress parking in an illegal spot is the fact that Smith, who hails from the Lone Star State — where everything, from hairdos to T-bone steaks, is oversized — drives a diminutive Mini Cooper.

A Smith staffer jokes to HOH that the Texan might need an even tinier ride to fit into Washington’s scant parking spots. “He figured his Mini could fit,” the staffer says. “Maybe he needs to get a Smart Car.”

Saluting a Slugger. Canada is home to just one Major League Baseball team (the Toronto Blue Jays), but that doesn’t mean our neighbors to the north lack an appreciation for America’s pastime — and one legendary slugger in particular.

Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer will host an event at his country’s embassy tonight for Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who will be honored as a “champion for children,” according to an embassy spokeswoman.

The Baltimore Orioles legend — and holder of the record for most consecutive games played — is set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from Super Leaders, a local charity that trains middle and high school students to become positive role models in their own communities.

In 2001, Ripken and his brother founded the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, a nonprofit that uses baseball and softball to help disadvantaged and at-risk youth. The charity partners with community groups to sponsor health education initiatives, summer camps and other programs designed to “help build character and teach critical life lessons.”

Not Quite Idol Worship. With Paula Abdul already gone and Simon Cowell exiting after this season, some “American Idol” fans are singing a sad tune.

But have no fear: Rep. Paul Hodes’ Senate campaign is hosting its own “Idol” competition. The New Hampshire Democrat’s version of the popular show, called “Extreme Republican Idol,” is designed to find the contestant who is “the most out of tune” — and it doesn’t even require any dreadful auditions.

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