Wooing the Hollywood vote for '08?

It’s a no-brainer for two 2008 presidential front-runners: Show some support for a movie about patriotic heroism, and maybe pick up some Hollywood backers at the same time. Which might explain why Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will be hobnobbing on the red carpet Thursday night with the likes of Joseph Fiennes, Benjamin Bratt and James Franco.

It’s a no-brainer for two 2008 presidential front-runners: Show some support for a movie about patriotic heroism, and maybe pick up some Hollywood backers at the same time.

Which might explain why Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) will be hobnobbing on the red carpet Thursday night with the likes of Joseph Fiennes, Benjamin Bratt and James Franco.

The pair is slated to attend the D.C. premiere of “The Great Raid” at the Uptown Theater, as well as co-host the VIP after-party, along with Miramax and the yet-to-be-launched Capitol File magazine.

As of press time, it was still unclear whether Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein will show. If he does, it’s probably more helpful to Hillary than McCain: Weinstein donated $3,000 to Hillary in the past two years, as well as copious cash to the Democratic Party, but Federal Election Commission records show no such largesse coming McCain’s way from the burly Hollywood kingmaker.

The film tells the story of the 6th Ranger Battalion, which in 1945 undertook a daring mission behind enemy lines in the Philippines to rescue 500 American POWs.

Bratt has another Washington angle these days as well. This fall, he stars with Dennis Hopper in “E-Ring,” a new, Jerry Bruckheimer-produced series on NBC. As you might guess, the series takes the “West Wing” formula across the Potomac to the Pentagon.

Cornyn: White House didn’t interview me — yet

Although his name was discussed as a possible surprise pick to the Supreme Court from beyond the federal bench, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he was never contacted about the job. But his eyes aren’t closed to a future nod.

Speaking to reporters at the National Press Club, Cornyn, who served as Texas’s attorney general and on the state Supreme Court, said he didn’t talk to the White House, which had him “relieved,” he said, “because I’m enjoying the Senate a lot.”

He added, however, that he believes the Supreme Court would benefit from some “diversity of background and experience. There is a concern about groupthink and how the court can really be out of touch.”

As examples, he cited the recent eminent-domain decision in Kelo v. City of New London and Justice Anthony Kennedy’s recent opinion invalidating state laws that allow minors to be put to death.

He added that it would be helpful to have court members from other quarters than the “bubble” of the federal judiciary.

“If it’s any consolation to me,” he said, “the president should have the opportunity to nominate more than one” justice in his remaining term.

Not to be outdone, Halle Berry coming to testify

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is fast becoming a required stop for Hollywood’s hottest starlets.

Chip Unruh, a spokesman for ranking member Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) confirmed that his office is “in talks with Halle Berry and her folks” about appearing before the committee to testify on the Violence Against Women Act.

Berry has spoken out on the issue before and has in fact been a victim of abuse by her father and in other relationships.

Unruh said the committee hoped to have her appear this week but, because of all the high-profile business before the Senate, it likely won’t happen until September.

Berry’s appearance follows Ashley Judd’s testimony before Foreign Relations last month on sex abuse and AIDS in developing countries. Also in recent weeks, Angelina Jolie, the reigning high priestess of sexiness, met with committee members regarding orphans.

And only last week, Mexican actress Salma Hayek also testified on the Violence Against Women Act. She was escorted to the hearing by Biden himself.

But Unruh insisted that it’s all bipartisan, that many of the ladies have met with Committee Chairman Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) as well. “It’s not like Biden is just getting all these beautiful women to come to Washington,” he said.

Perhaps Biden himself would be a bigger draw had he won the “Hottest U.S. Senator not Counting Obama” contest, recently conducted online at www.hottest ussenator.com. Although he made it to the Final Four, he couldn’t top that looker Evan Bayh (D-Ind.).

Tommy John: Put me in, skipper

If the Washington Nationals are looking for a little help with their hitting, especially against left-handers, manager Frank Robinson should give Tommy John a call.

John, who won 288 games over a span of 26 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, says he thinks he can help the Nationals.

“They need a good left-handed batting practice pitcher, and I can still throw the ball on the outside the plate,” the 62-year-old left-hander told The Hill after he signed baseballs at the American Meat Institute’s annual hot-dog day on Capitol Hill last week.

John, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., made 700 starts and 60 relief appearances after his debut in Cleveland on Sept. 6, 1963. Ironically, it was against the old Washington Senators.

He pitched until he was 46, thanks to his pinpoint control, his sinker ball and the elbow surgery that now bears his name. His best season was with the Yankees in 1979, when he won 22 games.

John said he’s serious about helping the Nationals improve their batting skills against left-handers. And maybe he can even give the Nats’ pitching staff some helpful tips.
So what are you waiting for, Frank? Give him a call.

Reading conservative blogs: At home with the Kennedys

It isn’t just conservatives who are reading what the conservative blogs are saying these days about Supreme Court nominee Judge John Roberts, according to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Kennedy, who will be one of Roberts’s principal interrogators when the Judiciary Committee takes up his nomination in September, told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast last week that his wife, Vicki, also reads them.

“My wife found out last night just going through the blogs,” Kennedy said of the briefing points about Roberts’s judicial record and philosophy that conservative groups have prepared.

“All we want is the information that is relevant,” Kennedy said of Democrats’ demand that the Bush White House delivers up every scrap of information that can be found about Roberts, which he said “is in the tradition of the Judiciary Committee, no more, no less.”

Kennedy also made light of his speech this week to the AFL-CIO convention in Chicago, telling a reporter, “You’re missing a great speech. It’s the same one I’ve been giving for 40 years.”

Many members come to Boy Scouts’ aid with the Support Our Scouts Act

The Boy Scouts’ motto is “Be prepared,” and the 40 former senators who were Boy Scouts definitely are prepared when it comes to protecting the Scouts’ right to hold their jamborees and go camping on federal property, as they will next week when 40,000 Scouts gather for the quadrennial National Scouts Jamboree at an Army base in Virginia.

Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who was a Boy Scout and whose three sons were Scouts as well, had plenty of help last week as he pushed for passage of his amendment to the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2006.

Frist’s bill, the Support Our Scouts Act of 2005, is designed to overturn a recent federal court ruling that the Pentagon cannot support the Jamboree because the Scouts are a religious organization, as members are required to affirm a belief in God.

Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) said that he had a “rather inauspicious career” in the Scouts but that “they did a lot more for me than I did for them.”

And Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said scouting helped him “build some character. I can still stay the words: ‘Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind. There are 12 of them. I did not always live up to them, but they were taught to me.”

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) noted that he attended the 1957 National Jamboree in Valley Forge, Pa., and that both he and his son are Eagle Scouts.

There are also 150 members of the House who were Boy Scouts. In other words, you mess with the Scouts at your own risk.