Heard on the Hill: On Pins and Needles

Posted February 1, 2010 at 6:24pm

Pop starlet Britney Spears and Madeleine Albright might not appear to have, well, anything in common — but it turns out both learned to master the tricky art of getting out of a vehicle while wearing a skirt.

[IMGCAP(1)]Albright appeared at the Newseum on Sunday to promote her latest memoir, “Read My Pins,— which studies how her trademark jewelry became a key part of her diplomatic arsenal as secretary of State. Along with reminiscing about her most memorable brooches, Albright dished on her fashion choices in general, including how she didn’t often wear pants “mainly because I looked awful in them.—

And that presented a unique problem. “Getting in and out of helicopters is not simple,— Albright joked.

Of course, Albright never suffered a Spears-esque, um, panty-less accident. But the diplomat did find that fashion, and her pins in particular, provided a unique diplomatic tool.

Albright famously began wearing them during her time as United Nations ambassador, when then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein called her a “serpent.— Albright responded months later by wearing a snake pin when she met with Iraqi officials.

The tradition continued when Albright was secretary of State. For example, she wore a bicycle pin during Middle East peace talks, symbolizing the need for participants to “keep pedaling.—

“I do have to make clear, I didn’t spend my entire time thinking about what pin I was going to wear,— she joked.

But Albright did admit she eyes clothing labels — although she’s not looking for the designer.

When Albright was selected to carry the Olympic torch before the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, she discovered the clothes that she was given to wear were made in Myanmar, a country that she issued sanctions against as secretary of State.

Knowing that she’d be criticized for wearing a Myanmar-produced outfit, Albright bought her own instead.

All About the O. Capitol Hill celebrity chef Art Smith, the man behind the Senate-side hot spot Art and Soul in the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel, will appear on “The Oprah Winfrey Show— this week.

Smith (who used to be the talk-show maven’s personal chef, by the way) will discuss his battle with diabetes on Thursday’s show, which also will feature an appearance from Winfrey favorite Dr. Mehmet Oz.

After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, Smith drastically changed his lifestyle by eating healthy and exercising regularly. It worked — Smith lost 85 pounds and no longer needs to take diabetes medication. It wasn’t always easy, considering Smith is known for his fried chicken — which, as a press advisory touts, also is a favorite of pop star Lady Gaga.

Smith still eats his favorite foods in moderation, but he’s mostly eating healthy and even added healthy items to Art and Soul’s menu, the release notes.

A Bad Apple? The fracas over the iPad — the, er, interestingly named new Apple gadget that’s being promoted to change everything about how we use technology — has come to Capitol Hill.

Last week, Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) posted a link to a news story critiquing the iPad to the Republican New Media Caucus’s blog on the news-sharing Web site Amplify. Originally published in the Wall Street Journal, the article analyzes how the iPad, priced at $499, could actually cost consumers up to $1,000.

But Latta, who chairs the new media caucus, isn’t issuing a negative judgement on the iPad, spokesman David Popp told HOH. The Congressman posted the item on the blog simply because he enjoys talking about all things technology.

“Because technology is constantly changing, the iPad was the ‘hot topic’ of [last] week — next week it will be another item, and so on and so forth,— Popp told HOH via e-mail. “The post was by no means meant to come down on either side in terms of whether or not the iPad is a good or bad product.—

Swing and Miss. Annie Baker, a senior legislative assistant for Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), is looking for love in some of the wrong places. The Texas native participated in the Washington Post Magazine’s “Date Lab— feature, in which the cupid-esque Post sends two willing local singles on a blind date and asks them to document the experience.

Baker, whose date with a think-tanker was featured in Sunday’s magazine, tells HOH that while the setup hasn’t bloomed into luurve (they had a second date and have “talked a lot— since their first outing, but coupledom doesn’t look like it’s in the offing), she’s not at all sorry that she tried.

“If nothing else, I’ve gotten a funny story out of it,— she says. Plus recognition from other staffers in the hallways who saw the write-up.

She gave the Post credit for finding a guy who, at least on paper, sounds like a good match: The two are both moderate Republicans from the West who like college football. “It was a nice try,— she says.

Baker isn’t the first Capitol Hill staffer who has turned to “Date Lab— for help in finding Mr. or Ms. Right — Scott Hoeflich, chief of staff to Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), went on one of their matchups last year.

Boxer Laughs at Brown’s ‘Lump.’ Who says “Saturday Night Live— isn’t funny? Definitely not Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who HOH hears got a huge kick out of seeing herself caricatured in a skit in which the charming Sen.-elect Scott Brown (R-Mass.) inspires naughty fantasies among the Democratic leadership.

The skit featured Senate newbie Brown (played by Jon Hamm of “Mad Men—) accidentally stumbling into a Democratic meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.), Boxer, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.) and Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.). In turn, each of the Democrats has a daydream about Brown.

In Boxer’s reverie, Brown appears in a lab coat and boxers. “Hi, Barbara,— he coos. “How’s your health plan going? … I just found a lump … in my underpants.—

“Sen. Boxer thought the SNL sketch was hysterical,— Boxer spokeswoman Natalie Ravitz says. “She couldn’t stop laughing.—

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