Model Mess

Posted May 20, 2008 at 6:39pm

Normally when celebrities come to Capitol Hill, staffers take pains to ensure things run as smoothly as possible. But Democratic aides prepping for one such visit Tuesday found themselves tripped up by a new role — cleanup crew for the House Republican Conference.

[IMGCAP(1)]Supermodel Christy Turlington Burns and “Ginger Spice” Geri Halliwell spoke at a press conference in the Longworth House Office Building on Tuesday, joining several Democratic female Members to support legislation to reduce maternal mortality rates. The celeb-studded event took place in the same room the House GOP leadership had used to host a meeting on the state of the party earlier in the day. The Republicans created a big mess — and we’re not talking about policy.

The GOP Members and staffers left room 1539 in Longworth cluttered with half-eaten pizza crusts, grease-stained pizza boxes, plates, plastic cups and soda cans. After they rushed into the just-vacated room, some of the Democratic Congressional aides were forced to frantically clean up, while others moved furniture, arranged flags and hung signs to make things look right before the Democrats and their celebrity guests arrived.

Fortunately, the crew got a reprieve — votes were called, which delayed the event’s start time.

The event itself went smoothly, as Halliwell and Turlington Burns urged Congress to fund maternal health programs. (HOH notes, though, that New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney mistakenly called Halliwell “Terri” at one point, and Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee once referred to Turlington Burns as “Charity.”)

Neither star seemed offended, though. Turlington Burns told HOH that it was her third visit to Capitol Hill recently to rally for women’s issues and that the trip left her hopeful the programs will get funded soon. “Everybody coming together is what’s really going to make a difference,” she said.

The Leader Stays in the Picture. HOH was an English major, so forgive us for a going a little heavy on the symbolism here: The GOP on Tuesday had to shed some dead weight, and Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) notably didn’t get the ax.

After a GOP lunch meeting in the Longworth House Office Building during which Members discussed party strategy (and, we hear, drowned their sorrows by indulging in plenty of gut-expanding pizza — see previous item), a bunch of GOP-ers crowded onto an elevator. When it became clear that the doors couldn’t close and that not all of the overstuffed elephants would fit, two of them stepped off — Reps. Eric Cantor (Va.) and John Carter (Texas). That left a relieved-looking Boehner, who was standing near the door, still on board.

Boehner beat back suggestions this weekend that he step down from leadership after three special election losses by Republicans. “I’m staying,” he told George Stephanopoulos during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”

That sentiment apparently goes for elevators as well as leadership posts.

The Astronaut’s Wife. When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband says he has to go out of town for work, he means waaay out of town. Mark Kelly, the Arizona Democrat’s husband of six months, is heading to the International Space Station on May 31, and Giffords will be on hand during the launch to see him off, her office said Tuesday. Kelly is the veteran astronaut who will command the crew of NASA shuttle Discovery during its 14-day mission.

And for jaded folks who thought there were no more “firsts” anymore, the Congresswoman’s presence at the launch will mark “the first time in American history a Member of Congress will watch her spouse rocket into space,” her office says.

Cleft-Chin Proliferation. At first blush, actor Michael Douglas and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) might not appear to have much in common. Douglas, after all, is a dashing leading man who’s married to a woman who perennially makes the short list of sexiest women alive. And Lugar … well, isn’t.

But the unlikely duo has at least one thing in common, and they’ll appear together today on the Hill to promote a cause they both care about: nuclear nonproliferation. A Lugar spokesman tells HOH that Douglas had planned to be in town for a meeting of the Ploughshares Fund, a grant-making organization devoted to ending proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of which he’s a board member, and requested the meeting.

Lugar and Douglas will meet today and pose for a photo op. The cleft-chinned actor also will be meeting with other Members on his visit to D.C., HOH hears.

Ice Cream Zone. Most scoops on Capitol Hill are journalistic ones. But today, the ONE Campaign, the global poverty-fighting group founded by rocker Bono, will be dishing out some higher-calorie scoops during its first ice cream social on the Hill. At 2 p.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building Courtyard and at 4:30 p.m. in Upper Senate Park, ONE will be serving a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor developed just for the group, called ONE Cheesecake Brownie (as if one cheesecake brownie is ever enough), as well as other flavors.

Here’s the cherry on top: You’ll be able to watch Senators and Members compete in a scoop-off to see who is the fastest and meet Friday Night Lights actress Connie Britton.

As if you needed any more reason to go than free ice cream in the week before recess.

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