Heard on the Hill: In the Cross Hairs

Posted July 8, 2009 at 6:30pm

Rep. José Serrano is well-known for his trademark Tom Selleck-esque black mustache, but the New York Democrat recently made a stunning lip-hair-related admission: That lustrous ’stache of his isn’t entirely natural.

[IMGCAP(1)]Color HOH surprised.

During an Appropriations markup Tuesday evening, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) — self-proclaimed co-chairman of the “Congressional Mustache Caucus— with Serrano — observed that while his own mustache is turning gray, Serrano’s shows no sign of silver.

That led Serrano to confess: “It’s a good thing we’re not allowed to do commercials, but Just for Men works wonders.—

So that’s how he keeps his youthful good looks, eh?

It turns out Serrano has been using the hair dye on his lip-tickler for quite some time. The Congressman told HOH on Wednesday that he’s been a loyal Just for Men customer for about five or six years.

“The issue is, my hair is pretty black, but my mustache is not,— Serrano said. “And so I got tried of people asking me, Do you dye your hair?’—

He later continued: “So, by touching it up, I’ve done away with that … and in the process got myself this strange publicity,— he joked.

Serrano did speculate that there are others out there on Capitol Hill who share his affinity for the popular product. “I’m just one of the guys who admitted something in public that other guys won’t,— he said.

So, who else wants to admit that they’re in the club?

No Love for the Gloved One? Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) proudly brandished a framed copy of her resolution honoring Michael Jackson at the pop star’s funeral on Tuesday — although House staffers tell HOH that the bill’s legislative outlook is murkier than the identity of Billie Jean’s baby-daddy.

Jackson Lee is circulating a “Dear Colleague— letter in hopes of attracting more sponsors for the lengthy bill, which recounts Jackson’s humanitarian work in detail and praises his efforts against global hunger and other causes. To get the bill before the Foreign Affairs Committee, to which it was referred, she first needs 25 signatures, 10 of which must be committee members, according to the panel’s rules.

Even if she does, and even if the committee considers it, some staffers are questioning whether the bill will prove too controversial to bring to the House floor, with at least one Member of Congress, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), publicly criticizing the late King of Pop as a “pervert— and a “pedophile.—

One Republican aide seemed to be enjoying the conundrum the bill presents for Democrats.

“This is a toughie for Democratic leaders,— the aide said. “Do they offend the Congressional Black Caucus by ignoring Rep. Jackson Lee, or do they force Members who have more mainstream districts to explain why they voted to honor a suspected pedophile? Tricky. But that’s why they get paid the big bucks.—

Congress Gets Ripped. Fiscal hawk Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Blue Dog Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.) have reputations as budget-cutters. But it turns out federal spending isn’t the only thing the two want to see get cut: Both plan to work out in the House gym with fitness guru Tony Horton, whose super-tough “P90X— regime (“get absolutely ripped in 90 days!— the exercise DVD promises) they follow.

HOH hears Horton will be putting Ryan, Shuler and a few other lawmakers through their paces during an early morning sweat session on Friday.

Ryan tells HOH he’s excited to meet Horton, whose DVDs he’s been following since December. “I feel like I know him,— says Ryan, who laughed when HOH asked if he was “ripped,— but admitting he’s kept his body fat from 6 percent to 8 percent thanks to the program. “Some people have financial gurus. Some people have spiritual gurus. I have a fitness guru and his name is Tony Horton.—

Shuler and Ryan do the workouts together; Ryan says Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is also a fan, and that he’s gotten Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) into it, too.

And Horton’s program is intense enough to impress even a pro. “I have worked out personally and professionally for many years,— says Shuler, who as a former NFL player is no stranger to grueling workouts. “P90X is the one of my most challenging and extreme exercise experiences yet.—

HOH is content to take their word for it.

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s … the Mayor? D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty better watch out, Superman is coming after him.

And so are Spiderman, The Atom, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Victor “Cyborg— Stone and both Batgirl and Batwoman (but not Batman).

The eight superheroes are running for mayor, battling it out to determine who can lead our fair city through crucial issues ranging from the budget to the goings-on of evil villains. And the campaign is turning increasingly bitter, with the superheroes attacking each other via Twitter and in Web videos that are quickly going viral.

Except that it’s all a ruse — this mayoral race actually is a program put on by the New Organizing Institute, an organization that helps train campaign staffers.

“The idea is you’re supposed to use traditional campaign messaging tactics with these new tools,— said Katie Naranjo, who is working to elect The Atom. “It’s teaching us how to use them in a mock election.—

Most of the campaign messaging is pretty funny. The Atom, for example, created a video mocking Bill O’Reilly’s famous “F— It, We’ll Do it Live— video clip from his days on “Inside Edition.— Superman’s latest press release urges the Washington Nationals to let Teddy Roosevelt win the presidents’ foot race held during games.

And in a mock news story, the Green Lantern takes credit for Councilmember Marion Barry’s recent arrest, noting that he “discovered an elegant woman being accosted by a shadowy figure.—

Voters will head to the polls (on the institute’s Web site) on Friday. Naranjo noted that The Atom has received mostly positive feedback — except from one constituency. “The comic book community … is starting to get very angry if we don’t get the story right,— she joked.

Looks like the fanboys are standing in for what any veteran campaigner knows is the most terrifying adversary: the press.

Niels Lesniewski of GalleryWatch contributed to this report.

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