Heard on the Hill: A Colbert-NASA Truce?

Posted March 27, 2009 at 6:07pm

Leave it to the Senate to find a compromise, and one that involves an acronym, no less. A peace-brokering Senate staffer has devised a clever solution to the showdown brewing between NASA and comedian Stephen Colbert.

[IMGCAP(1)]HOH reported last week that lawmakers were divided on the issue, with some siding with NASA, which sponsored a contest to name a new area in the International Space Station. Colbert campaigned to have the space wing named after him, and his viewers wrote in his name, making “Colbert— the winning entry — only NASA is now suggesting it could snub Colbert and name the room “Serenity,— the NASA-sanctioned second-place vote-getter.

The concerned staffer proposes that NASA bestow the moniker “Constantly Orbiting Laboratory for Beyond Earth Research & Technology— (or COLBERT) to the space station area. That solution diplomatically allows NASA to save face with a sober and appropriate choice, while giving Colbert bragging rights.

Now if only this Senate staffer could work that kind of magic on the budget impasse …

Pelosi’s Sugar Rush. Cupcakes are the new black. Proof that the little pastries really have taken over Washington: Speaker Nancy Pelosi got a plateful of them for her 69th birthday last week.

HOH hears that Pelosi kicked off her big b-day on Thursday during a whip team meeting with toasts from a pal, fellow California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, and a gallant tribute from Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).

After a rendition of “Happy Birthday— from assembled Members and staffers, Pelosi showed the cupcakes (from Dupont Circle’s Hello Cupcake, for those of you paying attention to the city’s ongoing cupcake wars) the respect they deserve. Our spy says that before making a wish, she plucked the candle out of the cupcake and declared, “I don’t blow on cake,— and proceeded to blow out the flame.

Missing in Action. Something was lacking when the Senate held a confirmation hearing last week for Christopher Hill, the would-be new ambassador to Iraq.

Something loud. Something flamboyant. Something pink.

Protesters from peacenik group CODEPINK did not attend Hill’s confirmation hearing Wednesday, which is noteworthy because the bubble-gum-hued, tiara-wearing ladies never miss anything Iraq-related on Capitol Hill.

But it wasn’t an oversight — the group simply didn’t want to protest Hill’s nomination, according to founder Madea Benjamin.

“[W]e are not opposed to him as Ambassador,— Benjamin told HOH via e-mail. “He played a positive role in North Korea and has more diplomatic skills than many ambassadorial nominees.—

Benjamin doesn’t know for sure if Wednesday marked the first time that the group has missed an Iraq-focused hearing since CODEPINK’s protests began several years ago, but she did admit the group’s absence is rare. “We try to keep up on all the hearings (and attend), but we might have missed one or two,— she wrote.

An A-List Celebrity Visitor. Blink and you might have missed him — that was actor Sean Penn, fresh off his Academy Award best actor win for “Milk,— in town last week to shoot scenes for his latest flick, “Fair Game.—

The film relays the story of former CIA agent Valerie Plame, who famously was revealed as a spy in 2003, allegedly by White House officials trying to discredit her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had been critical of the Bush administration’s evidence for going to war in Iraq.

Penn, who plays Wilson, shot scenes at the NBC studios and near the Willard InterContinental Hotel at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, according to D.C. film office spokesman Josh Friedman.

Actress Naomi Watts plays Plame, and she shot scenes about two weeks ago at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Friedman said. Crews also shot some driving scenes in Georgetown, although Friedman didn’t know if either actor took part.

Sad you missed the stars? You might get another chance to spot them — Friedman told HOH that Penn and Co. “may be back this summer— to shoot additional scenes, although nothing is yet official.

A Starry Week Ahead. Missed your chance to ogle Penn and Watts? No worries — plenty of other famous folk will be on Capitol Hill this week.

On Tuesday, “West Wing— actors will have a reunion, with Martin Sheen, Bradley Whitford and Richard Schiff teaming up with Members of Congress to unveil the “Faces of the Employee Free Choice Act,— a new advertisement and grass-roots campaign designed to get support for the much-debated measure. The trio is planning to appear at a press conference in the Russell Senate Office Building and then head to the office of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), where they’ll pose for more photos.

The House won’t be left out of the celeb-action, either. Musicians Josh Groban, Linda Ronstadt and Wynton Marsalis will be on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to take part in Arts Advocacy Day. The group will appear at a Congressional breakfast in the Capitol Visitor Center before testifying before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, talking about how the arts industry can create jobs.

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