The Congressman Yields the Floor to Ms. Spice

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, February 22, 2008

Certain standards of protocol apply in Washington. A senator is introduced first, then a governor. An associate Supreme Court justice gets a better seat than a Cabinet secretary. When a congressman meets a Spice Girl? Society still grapples with the question of who takes precedence.

The Spice was Ginger, a.k.a. Geri Halliwell, who swung by the Capitol ahead of last night's sold-out reunion concert ("Like going back to someone you've divorced," she joked) to lobby for maternal health care and AIDS relief, her issues as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. Population Fund.

Later, Halliwell (tiny in a chic cream vintage suit and pearls, her gingery tresses in curls) sipped tea and held forth to a couple of reporters and handlers. "I went to Zambia last year, and this was like six months after I had my own baby," she told our colleague Marissa Newhall. "When you see what's happening out there -- women breastfeeding with AIDS, and they can pass it on to their children, but they have no other means of feeding their children because the water and the sanitation is so bad."

Then Rep. Jim Moran walked into the conference room (Ginger Rep! Though he's kind of white on top now), and the room froze up with awkwardness because, well, no one wanted to miss anything she said. He politely took his seat without a sound.

"I think it's very exciting to watch American politics," said Halliwell, 35. "Whether it's a black man, whether it's a woman, whether it's . . . how old is the other fellow? John McCain? 72? 71? You know what, that's amazing too, that, you know, that the fellow's still got life in his bones. Everyone's got something to bring to the party."

Time ran short. Moran's turn to talk? Another reporter seized the moment: "My roommate is a huge fan . . ."

"Sign something?" said Halliwell. "Of course I can."

Moran closed the meeting, noting that the current budget debate made Halliwell's visit especially timely.

Double Teamed?

The lady Terps took the day off yesterday to visit their two newest fans: 6-day-old twins Tyler Joseph Thomas, and Markus William Thomas, with mom, Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese. Adorable, but what -- they don't make Terps onesies?

HEY, ISN'T THAT . . . ?

Bill Murray lunching downtown at Proof yesterday with four others. The actor (in all black, plus Chuck Taylors) had the lamb burger and a couple nice red wines. His reps had "no idea" why he was here. Maybe he scored Spice Girl tickets.


"For me, it's like being Hillary Clinton. If it weren't for Barack Obama, it would have been a very good year."

-- Best Actor nominee George Clooney telling Time how it feels to compete for an Oscar Sunday against front-runner Daniel Day-Lewis, who he said had "the best performance of the year."


Erstwhile Britney Spears manager Sam Lutfi was finally served yesterday with a temporary restraining order -- issued by the courts weeks ago -- to keep him away from the troubled pop star, People and TMZ reported. Lutfi had battled with the Spears family for control of her affairs; the family claimed in court filings that he had drugged her and cut her phone lines before her commitment to a psychiatric hospital last month.

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