Queen for a Day

Posted March 27, 2007 at 6:51pm

Nashville gal Mary Morgan Ketchel, who’s the daughter of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), is campaigning — not for her mom, but for herself. [IMGCAP(1)]

Ketchel is running, not for office, exactly, but to be royalty. In an event comprehensible only to those familiar with the particular brand of pomp we Southerners enjoy, she’s seeking the coveted mantle of Oyster Easter Queen, a title bestowed at a Nashville, Tenn., charity drive.

According to an e-mail she sent would-be supporters, Ketchel is soliciting donations to the Community Resource Center, a nonprofit that aids other charity groups.

“Y’all!” the e-mail reads, “I have been nominated for Oyster Easter Queen and I need your help!” The e-mail includes a Photo-shopped image of pageant-ready Ketchel sporting a tiara surrounded by flowers and what appears to be a large oyster.

But Ketchel, who is a professional fundraiser, has a dirty secret (it’s not exactly Tara Connor stuff, but, hey, it’s a charity thing): she’s allergic to oysters. “But I’m hoping to raise lots of money for disadvantaged kids anyway,” she says, calling the not-quite-pageant a “fun and funny way” to help a cause.

At least there’s no baton twirling.

Deliverance (From Plaque). If celebs are role models, then actor Jon Voight is putting in a good word for meticulous oral hygiene. The Oscar-winning Voight, whom HOH hears is in town filming a movie, was spotted by several Senate staffers Tuesday engaging in a five-minute dental-flossing session in a hallway of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Voight appeared to be waiting for a meeting outside the door to the office of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) and paced for a while before producing floss from his pocket, according to HOH spies. He proceeded to clean up his act — in full view of the windows looking out into the building’s central atrium.

Maybe he was worried his pearly whites couldn’t compete with the famously toothy Coleman, but one staffer who recounted the scene to HOH said Voight wasn’t just doing the usual surreptitious post-lunch spinach sweep.

“He was really digging in there,” our spy says. “Like some people pace and talk on their cell phones, he was pacing and flossing.”

Voight, who’s the father of tabloid darling and baby-collecting actress Angelina Jolie, sported slicked-back hair and a jacket-but-no-tie look.

And, we hope, a killer smile.

Covert Operation. Just to be clear, HOH is NOT saying that Hill flacks are particularly gifted in the art of subterfuge. No, HOH would never say such a thing.

But Republican National Committee Regional Press Secretary Chris Taylor managed to pull some serious wool over the eyes of girlfriend Rachel Bauer, press secretary for Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) — before slipping a ring on her finger.

The two were engaged last weekend during a jaunt to St. John, but crafty Taylor managed to keep the whole thing under wraps under the guise that the trip was a birthday celebration for him (he had a birthday the week before). And the deception only continued when, before heading out for a romantic dinner, Taylor lured Bauer out to the beach with the pretense of taking pictures of the sunset.

“I was kind of impatient,” Bauer tells HOH. “I thought we were going to be late for dinner, and when he asked me to sit down, I was like, ‘I don’t want to sit down, I’m in a dress.’”

But the smoke and mirrors were revealed when Taylor popped the question.

When they finally arrived at the restaurant for a celebratory dinner, Bauer noticed a notation by their reservation at the hostess table. “Will propose — may be late,” it read. “I thought, ‘Does everyone on this island know what’s going on but me?’” she said.

The couple hasn’t yet set a date for the wedding. Or maybe they have and it’s a secret.

ISO Humor. HOH is a big believer in love, and particularly love of the Capitol Hill variety, so she was intrigued by a tipster who forwarded a personal ad posted on Craigslist.com. A poster named “Bruce” confessed attraction to a certain staffer he’d seen at House Foreign Affairs Committee hearings. The story was a touching tale of admiration from afar.

The post read: “i always see you standing guard at the doors. i always want to talk to you but i’m shy. i can tell you’re my type — tall, nice, with an athlete’s physique. i’m always at tortilla coast because i live nearby. meet me there for drinks sometime?”

But to our bitter disappointment, the ad turned out to be a fake.

“There is no Bruce,” a spokeswoman for the Foreign Affairs Committee told a let-down HOH. One of the panel’s interns posted the personal ad to embarrass another — presumably, the tall guy working the door. “It was just one young person playing a joke on another,” the spokeswoman said.

Drat. Love in the committee room? Too good to be true.

Doctor Calls. Dr. B.J. Hunnicutt has Hill pals. Er, that is, actor/activist Mike Farrell, who played smart-alecky surgeon Hunnicutt on the TV show M.A.S.H., has buddies among lawmakers, he told C-SPAN Washington Journal viewers on Tuesday.

Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa) along with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) attended a book party for Farrell’s new tome, “Just Call Me Mike,” about his activism for human rights and other causes and his career as a Marine and actor. Other Hill pals, the still-kinda-hunky actor said, include Democratic Reps. Jim McGovern (Mass.) and George Miller (Calif.). Cue the theme music.

Please send your hot tips, juicy gossip or comments to hoh@rollcall.com.