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Anita McBride's new ride gets 41 mpg and lots of stares.
Anita McBride's new ride gets 41 mpg and lots of stares. (Roxanne Roberts - The Washington Post)
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Friday, March 6, 2009; 12:00 AM

Pitt Stops In D.C.: Activist Actor Starts at the Top

He started his morning at the White House, visiting with President Obama. Then into a private meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, before rounding out the afternoon in sit-downs with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Whip James Clyburn.

An enviable schedule for any foreign dignitary or corporate titan. But not a hard one, apparently, for Brad Pitt to pull off.

The Academy Award nominee and global heartthrob has kept a busy schedule in Washington while life partner Angelina Jolie films the CIA thriller "Salt." But what prompts the nation's leaders to clear spots on their daybooks for . . . an actor?

He's "proven they're fully invested in a worthy cause," said an administration official, speaking of Pitt's easy access in D.C. alongside real estate millionaire Steve Bing, his partner in a project devoted to enviro-friendly redevelopment of New Orleans. "They dig into the details, they care about the policy, they want to see good results." The pair also met Wednesday with Energy Secretary Steven Chu and HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.

Some advocacy groups say they're far more likely to get face time with elected officials -- as opposed to senior staff -- if they have a celebrity face in tow. That's why you see more and more People magazine types in D.C. But not every star makes the cut: Pitt and Jolie put in years not just tending to humanitarian causes but cultivating an aura of credible seriousness. So for all your work on animal rights, sorry, Pam Anderson, you probably won't get that Pelosi photo op.

Jolie's day was a little quieter: The newly blond mom of six filmed what looked like a chase scene at the Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue and nearby Metro station with co-star Liev Schreiber.

This Just In . . .

-- Chris Brown was charged in L.A. yesterday with two felonies -- assault likely to cause great bodily injury, and making criminal threats -- in connection with the alleged beating of girlfriend Rihanna the night before the Grammys. A detective's affidavit in the charging documents states that the singers started fighting when she found a text from another woman on his cellphone; he allegedly pushed her head against the car window, repeatedly punched and bit her, and later tried to choke her and threatened to kill her. If convicted, Brown faces anything from probation to more than four years in state prison.

Wonder If They'll Do Secret Santa Later

The perfect gift -- so hard to find! The White House drew flak from U.K. media for the U.S. half of the world-leader gift exchange during Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit. Brown gave President Obama a pen holder carved from the timbers of a sister ship to the HMS Resolute, which provided wood for the Oval Office desk given to the United States by Queen Victoria . . . and Obama gave Brown a box set of 25 DVDs of classic movies. Like "a pair of socks from an unfamiliar aunt at Christmas," sniffed the Daily Mail. A White House spokesman said "the gift exchange is a personal thing; we're not going to categorize it beyond that."

An easier guy to shop for? Robert Gibbs. The press secretary implied Wednesday that he never tunes in to talk radio: "I wish I had a radio." NPR correspondents Don Gonyea, Mara Liasson and Scott Horsley marched out and bought him a cheap set for $19.97, while WTOP's Mark Plotkin came to yesterday's briefing with a fancy digital model -- too pricey under ethics regs to keep, Gibbs said. But "my son needs a college fund," he joke-hinted. "And my car is a little bit old."


"They said it was a modesty thing. They thought it was presumptuous."

-- Bono in the new Rolling Stone, revealing that the Obama team nixed the rock star's idea to use Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech as an intro to U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" during the inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial. On performing before the massive crowd: "I suppose the fact I thought I could bond with every single one of them is early -- or later -- signs of megalomania."

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