Four Celebrities You Wouldn't Expect to Testify Before Congress (but still did)
With baseball's steroids scandal hitting Washington, Roger Clemens is among the stars being asked to testify before Congress. If you're thinking that Congress maybe has better people to talk to than aging baseball legends, you're probably right. But that hasn't stopped them from inviting some decidedly non-political faces to meet with them. Here's a look at some other names you wouldn't expect to see on Capitol Hill.
Can you tell me how to get, how to get to K Street? In one of the more bizarre Congressional visits, the Muppet Elmo of Sesame Street and Tickle-Me fame spoke to the Education Appropriations Subcommittee to lobby for increased funding for school music programs. Dressed in a suit with a snappy red tie, Elmo appeared because he wanted to make sure that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play." A fellow lobbyist praised Elmo's appearance because it represented the feelings of children everywhere, but he did neglect to recognize that most children can speak independently and aren't controlled by wires.
Folksy musician and poet Jewel is probably the most authoritative of the celebrities on this list, but that doesn't make her Congressional appearance any less surprising. She spoke to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support on the issue of youth homelessness. Among the goals of the meeting was to name November National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. Jewel represented the charity Virgin Unite, but was really called because of her experience as a homeless youth in San Diego. Video of her address is available here.
Unless one of the New Kids on the Block had a successful senatorial run that I'm not aware of, it's safe to say Kevin Richardson is probably the only boy band member to appear in the Capitol. The former singer/heart-throb testified about, of all things, mountaintop removal mining. Richardson's appearance infuriated Ohio Congressman George Voinovich, who boycotted the hearings because he felt they were becoming a sideshow merely to promote glamour. It should be noted that Richardson actually did have some credibility on the issue, since his environmental group has actively fought the mining strategy. However, Richardson ended up almost entirely agreeing with Voinovich when he admitted that he was trying to just attract media attention to the issue.
Supermodel Christie Brinkley, famous for her Sports Illustrated covers and inspiring Billy Joel's Uptown Girl, testified before Congress in 2002. Besides boosting the hotness factor of Capitol Hill by a significant margin, she was there to discuss the risks of nuclear reactors. Not only are they terrorist targets, she said, but she and then-husband Peter Cook feared for their children's lives since they lived near three reactors. She admitted that she even kept potassium iodide pills stowed away to counter the effects of radiation. Brinkley has continued the fight against nuclear power, even recently taking it to the UN.