By Betsy Rothstein - 03/31/08 05:08 PM EDT
Think what you will of the parade of actors that visits Capitol Hill, but Kate Walsh, an obstetrician on the TV drama “Private Practice,” is indisputably fearless when it comes to discussing sex education. On a visit to Capitol Hill last week, she joined Planned Parenthood, for which she serves as a Board of Advocates member, to host a briefing that debunked the value of abstinence education. “People here in Congress, it turns out, are doing nothing. Who cares? It’s just the future,” she snapped, before admitting that her own sexual education was limited to the notorious 1980 movie “Little Darlings.” On the Hill in HC-5 of the Capitol, female teens swarmed around Walsh, wanting to pose for photographs with the actress, more commonly known as McDreamy’s ex from “Grey’s Anatomy.” She kindly obliged, often responding to them with, “That’s awesome!”
Have you ever visited Capitol Hill before?
What do you think of it?
I think it’s amazing.
What’s your impression of politicians?
I haven’t met any today, but I’ve met a lot in my life and I think it is one of the most honorable professions.
More than acting?
The potential to lead is pretty remarkable.
I noticed you were wearing an Obama pin earlier. I take it you’re a supporter of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)?
That’s right. I think he’s the best-qualified to lead and serve.
Do you think you have Obama fever?
No, because a fever would imply short-lived.
Have you met Obama?
Yes. He is a man who says what he does and does what he says. Does that make sense? Says what he does, does what he says. Yes.
Why did you get involved in a campaign about sex?
Because I think the importance of sex education for teens in this country is essential.
What should children be told about sex?
They just need comprehensive sex education. They’re being told to abstain. That’s not working. They need to be told about contraception. There is literally no place [where they are told] except in the home, and that is random.
Which state do you like better in TV land — Washington state, where “Grey’s Anatomy” is based, or California, where “Private Practice” takes place?
I love both.
What’s going on with your love life on the show? The doctor, Pete, blew you off. I can’t believe he missed your date.
I don’t know yet. He was a bit of a cad. Now we may have a hot cop in the mix.
Do people on the street still associate you with McDreamy’s ex-wife?
Not anymore, thankfully.
On “Grey’s Anatomy” your character cheats on her husband. How do you reconcile that with the woman you are in real life?
I was acting. In real life I am happily married, so it’s not something I would advocate. [Laughs]
What do you think of cheating politicians? There seem to be a lot of them lately.
I think it’s really disappointing.
Do you think infidelity happens as much in Hollywood as it does in politics?
I think that marriage is a sacred institution. What else can I say? If you get married you’ve to follow the rules. Or else what’s the point?
You were pretty harsh in that briefing to Congress, saying they have done nothing on the issue of sex education.
I was? [Pause] Well, they’re not, and sometimes the truth is hard and harsh. One in four girls have an STD. That is abominable.”
Where do you like to hang out in Washington?
I just got here. I love the Capitol. It’s a really cool place.
What do you think of President Bush?
Hugely disappointing. [And that’s the] understatement of the century.
How is your new show, “Private Practice,” going?
Well, it was going well and then we had a writers’ strike. We start up again in May.
Do you think it’s important for actresses such as yourself to get involved in political causes?
In our culture, where the media is so big, if you can bring something to an issue, absolutely — as annoying as it is to hear a bunch of Hollywood people come out and say what they think.
To recommend a political personality for 20 Questions, call Betsy Rothstein at (202) 628-8516 or email at email@example.com