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Washington's dreamboats? You've got to be kidding

June 15, 2009 |  7:48 am


Maybe this only proves the old adage that Washington is Hollywood for ugly people.

This morning, named its top dreamboats, and the list of seven admittedly powerful names is a bit, well, surprising.

No question Grover Norquist is an influential lobbyist, whose Americans for Tax Reform has impacted policy on the Potomac ever since the Reagan administration.

Undoubtedly Budget Director Peter Orszag, seen on the right in a photo with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is a pivotal figure in bureaucratic circles, with his hands on the tiller of government spending.

And the list goes on, including Emanuel, "the West Wing version of Joe Pesci’s character in 'Goodfellas.'" House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, "a diamond in the rough." MSNBC's Chuck Todd, for bringing back the goatee. Vanity Fair's "chain-smoking, whiskey-drinking, God-denying" Christopher Hitchins. Libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul, for his "tireless devotion to the Constitution."

OK, so these guys have power and influence, but calling its article The Hunks of Capitol Hill? Even acknowledges that Washington is about the only place where former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer would have a stalker.

Still, the website defends its selections by saying: 

The haters call Washington “Hollywood for ugly people,” but they’ve got it all wrong. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholders inside the Beltway see beauty where others might miss it. ... Let the rest of the world have its Brad Pitt. D.C. knows who the real dreamboats are.

Let's just say Hollywood hasn't called yet.

The full story is below. Let us know what you think.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo Credit: Associated Press

DC's dreamboats
By: Daniel Libit and Erika Lovley
June 15, 2009 04:17 AM EST

Washington is a magical place, a place where the onetime victims of boyhood gym-locker entombment can grow up to become the objects of affection, admiration, compulsive fandom, BlogSpot pages and Cafe Press T-shirts.

It is, safe to say, the only place where Ari Fleischer could have a stalker.

The haters call Washington “Hollywood for ugly people,” but they’ve got it all wrong. Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and the beholders inside the Beltway see beauty where others might miss it.

Beauty, says Tammy Haddad, is “the people who make things work in our town because they’re able to move and motivate masses of people, which is really extraordinary.”

“They are powerful, dependable and completely engaged in your conversation with them, which is, in any world and any time, the most charming thing in the world.”

Let the rest of the world have its Brad Pitt. D.C. knows who the real dreamboats are:

Peter Orszag, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget

Nothing gets the ladies here blushing like a guy talking Medicare service utilization patterns in a nasally countertenor.

The Politico 44 Story Widget Requires Adobe Flash Player.

So it goes for Orszag, President Barack Obama’s compulsively caffeinated, double-BlackBerry-wearing, bespectacled budget guru. At 40, the Boston-born Orszag is Obama’s youngest Cabinet member. He’s got the perfect WASP résumé (East Coast boarding school, Princeton undergrad, London School of Economics doctorate) as well as a little bit of a country twist: Orszag is known to wear cowboy boots and once quoted Toby Keith in congressional testimony. But that’s not what matters to some Beltway fans. Said one political journo: “He’s so numbersy.”

Grover Norquist, anti-tax crusader

He may be the man many love to hate, but this notorious anti-tax lobbyist is so engaging — with a lightning-quick wit and overwhelming self-confidence — that even his dissenters often find it impossible to pull away. He’s had the ear of Washington’s most conservative elite for years, with contacts including key White House residents and, yes, convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“Grover is deadly serious about his mission, and he wraps it in humor. ... The man is on fire,” said former Consumer Electronics Association Chairwoman Kathy Gornik. “He is like a supertank. This man is unyielding in his vision, in his mission, and he takes you along for the ride.”

Christopher Hitchens, author and Vanity Fair columnist

There’s just something about that British accent. And few folks wield it like Washington’s resident bad boy — the chain-smoking, whiskey-drinking, God-denying, Iraq-war-supporting Hitchens.

New Yorker writer Ian Frazier once described Hitchens as “looking like someone who, with as much dignity as possible, has smoothed his hair and straightened his collar after knocking the helmet off a policeman.” While Hitch has often waxed about his own baby blues, it’s safe to assume his appeal is more rhetorical than physical.

A local publicist coos: “Hitchens is a brilliant visual writer with a charming sarcasm I adore. He seems like the ideal date to a wedding (or gala) — we’d quietly snark about every last gaudy detail and guest and yet captivate the room at the same time.”

Chuck Todd, NBC White House correspondent

Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, but Chuckie T brought the goatee back — which is undoubtedly more of a challenge. The man Howard Kurtz described as the prototypical “brainy guy poring over computer printouts” is known for his sharp instincts and his knack for cutting to the chase.

The former Hotline editor has already inspired a following of severe online hangers-on who call themselves Chuckolytes. His facial hair has been the source of much Web repartee, in and of itself. Todd even joked with Politics Daily about the fear of being just “another pasty white guy” without his trademark chin dressing.

Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff

He’s got the reputation of a bulldog and the mouth of a pirate — and he’s not ashamed of either, even in the proper confines of the White House. He’s shorter than average, but he has an intimidating mien about him — the West Wing version of Joe Pesci’s character in “Goodfellas.” Speaking of: Emanuel is said to have once mailed a rotting fish to a political opponent. Such acts helped earn him the nickname “Rahm-bo” in his previous life on the Hill.

He displays a bitingly sarcastic wit at parties, but he’s known for having a hidden soft side as well — he studied ballet as a boy — and women tend to love a man who can dance. “Power tends to be an aphrodisiac for a lot of women in this city,” said Washington socialite and advice blogger Andrea Rodgers, and Emanuel certainly has the power.

Rep. Eric Cantor, House minority whip

A diamond in the rough who’s still relatively unknown outside the conservative huddle, the Virginia Republican is more an ear than a mouthpiece at social functions, where he’s rarely heard touting his own accomplishments.

“People who know him think he’s pretty engaging and charming,” said Haddad. “He has broken the mold as someone in leadership.”

Cantor’s not afraid to go against the grain — he attended a fundraiser at a Britney Spears concert rather than watch an Obama presser on the economic downturn. Known for the serious, hardworking Hill exterior that’s helped fuel his quickly rising star, socially he breaks the stuffed-shirt, self-important mold of congressional leadership and is genuinely able to kick back — an ability many of Washington’s hardest-working Hill climbers envy.

Cantor is dreamy, says one GOP fundraiser, because “everywhere I go, he always remembers my name, and I love that.”

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)

He’s a proud Texan doctor with a charming Southern smile, but it’s his tireless defense of the Constitution that makes the ladies fawn over “Dr. No.” He’s a penny-pincher who prefers a hacksaw to a scalpel when it comes to paring down government spending bills, and he plugs along as the quintessential black sheep who is largely ignored by traditional media and even his own party. But when it comes to his own fundraising, not only can he work a room — his self-confidence inspired the masses to raise millions in one-day donation blitzes.

Bloggers call him “sexy,” and even some of his male cultlike followers admit their “man crushes.”

Anne Schroeder Mullins contributed to this story.