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Leahy's Hat Trick as a Batman Cameo

By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is used to dealing with real men in black as he oversees the federal judiciary. But since childhood, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman also has been fanatic about the fictitious black-caped crusader who metes out his own brand of vigilante justice.

Leahy's love of Batman has reached new heights. Not only did the senator secure a cameo role in "The Dark Knight" -- the latest Batman film, which hits theaters July 18 -- he also has coaxed Warner Bros. into premiering the flick at a fundraising gala in his home town of Montpelier, Vt., instead of L.A. or New York.

The event is July 12, two full days before the big Hollywood premier.

On his way to votes last week, Leahy bragged to On the Hill that the event may raise $100,000 for the Kellogg-Hubbard Library, where a children's wing is named in his honor. He said the town is abuzz, with 350 tickets having sold at $50 apiece. Leahy is donating his pay for the film appearance to the library, which also will get a big lift from a variety of corporate sponsors.

Since the Judiciary chairman is hosting the event, Warner Bros. chairman and chief executive Barry Meyer will be on hand. It does not appear as if any of the lead actors, including Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, will be there. Heath Ledger, who plays the Joker, died in January after most of the filming was done.

Leahy's part, his third Batman cameo, is still something of a secret. It is small enough that he's not listed among the more than 80 actors who receive credits on the movie Web site IMDB.com.

But you can see him in one of the movie trailers currently running on the film's Web site. That's the distinguished senator from Vermont being roughed up by the Joker's henchman in a scene shot last July in a Chicago restaurant.

A Relatively Good Book

Three brothers walk into a bar; one's a Hollywood agent, the other's a leading Harvard doctor and the third, well, he's a lowly member of Congress.

This is not a joke, at least not in the Emanuel family of Chicago, whose middle son, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) may well be the big underachiever.

Youngest brother Ari is the fabled Hollywood agent and basis for Ari Gold, the obnoxious Jeremy Piven character in HBO's series "Entourage." But these days Rahm is playing promoter for brother Ezekiel.

Zeke Emanuel earned his medical degree from Harvard University, where he was an associate medical professor and a fellow in the Kennedy School of Government. He is now a member of the bioethics staff at the National Institutes of Health, and when his little brother, the chairman of the Democratic caucus, needs help with ideas on reforming health care, he turns to Zeke.

With Congress leaving town for this week's Fourth of July recess, Rahm Emanuel sent a copy of his brother's newest book -- "Healthcare, Guaranteed: A Simple, Secure Solution for America" -- to the entire Democratic caucus.

"For those who don't know him, Zeke is the doctor in the Emanuel family," Rahm wrote to his colleagues. "Or as my mom calls him, 'my only success.' "

Waxman of the Week

Phil Schiliro, staff director of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is leaving Capitol Hill to join Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

An official announcement is expected in days. But the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported this week that the man who served as top investigator for Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) will take a lead role in Obama's effort to coordinate his campaign with congressional Democrats.

Like many senior staffers on Obama's team, Schiliro once worked for former Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.). His service to Waxman goes back to the 1980s and was halted twice, in 1992 and 1994, when Schiliro lost races for a House seat in his native Long Island, N.Y.

After his year with Daschle in 2004, Schiliro returned to Waxman's fold and began investigations that included an examination of the coverup of the "friendly fire" death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a former NFL star. He has also played a lead role in the committee's work investigating steroid use in Major League Baseball.

Waxman's oversight of the Bush administration has been so thorough that this column occasionally gives out "Waxman of the Week" awards to lawmakers who administer the toughest reviews. This week it goes to the staffer who did much of the legwork.

A Shadow Bash in the Twin Cities

Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) may have ended his presidential campaign, but the libertarian gadfly isn't exactly going quietly into the good night. Just because the national best-selling author has decided he won't be a spoiler for his party in November doesn't mean he won't perhaps spoil one day of the Republican Party's convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul in September.

Paul is planning a one-day shadow convention that could be the wildest party of the entire week. Especially if a certain famous long-haired, bandanna-wearing, libertarian-leaning country star accepts Paul's invitation to perform.

Yes, Willie Nelson.

The Paul campaign, which has morphed into a grass-roots movement called the Campaign for Liberty, is on pins and needles awaiting Nelson's response. "We would be thrilled if Willie Nelson could come, and he has an open invitation to join us," says Paul spokesman Jesse Benton.

The shadow convention already has a firm commitment from MSNBC 's Tucker Carlson, a longtime libertarian, to emcee the event. "When Ron Paul calls and asks you to emcee, you don't say no," Carlson tells us. "I'm sure it'll be a good time, and I love the libertarians."

Paul also is planning a book event in Minneapolis. His book "The Revolution" has been on the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks straight but with a dagger next to it, which, according to Book Review, means it was purchased in bulk at some bookstores.

Naturally, we wondered whether the Paul campaign had mass ordered the book. Sara Nelson, editor in chief of Publishers Weekly, explains that "usually, books bought in bulk are bought by someone with a platform -- owners of a business or someone who has another career as a public speaker. They buy the books in bulk to resell them."

The Paul campaign, or movement as it may be, says it bought just 60 books total, to give out to supporters. "We are going to buy 500 to give away for our new organization," Benton says. The book is selling so well, he says, because Paul's book is a "manifesto, a tool, stuff a man on the street can understand."

Paul decided to have his own convention because he wasn't given a speaking role at the GOP convention. "He has not been invited to speak," Benton says, "and we are not expecting that invitation to come."

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