Video: Jessica Simpson on Capitol Hill

By MSNBC anchor
updated 3/17/2006 4:13:16 PM ET 2006-03-17T21:13:16

In the nation's capital, there's a running joke about people who are "famous for Washington," implying that they aren't famous anywhere else. They're seen all around town at restaurants and events, and it's more of a bit of gossip than anything else for the capital scene.

On the flip side, there are occasions when a bona fide celebrity comes to town, and, quite frankly, the place goes nuts.

This morning on Capitol Hill, the place went nuts.

Jessica Simpson -- singer, actress, and America's sweetheart in the minds of many fans -- came to town in her new role as a spokesperson for Operation Smile, the nearly 25-year-old nonprofit volunteer medical organization that performs free dental surgery around the world.

Lobbying Congress for more money to support the group's effort, Simpson said that "our purpose in life is to smile," as hundreds of staffers, journalists, and even a few lawmakers looked on, seemingly befuddled by Simpson's star power.

In fact, Simpson's arrival created such a media scrum in the Longworth House Office Building, that it was unlike anything anybody on Capitol Hill has seen since perhaps actress Angelina Jolie appeared in a similar lobbying effort.

Simpson, known for her stylish and sometimes revealing outfits, wore a two-piece black pant-suit.  She also wore a white rose pin on her lapel and pearl earrings. Her sandy blonde hair was pulled back in a bun, with one hanging tendril.

Much to the crowd's dismay, Simpson did not take questions.

One reporter asked her why she didn't want to lobby her cause this evening with President Bush at a Republican fundraiser.

Reports surfaced Wednesday that Simpson would join the president at tonight's National Republican Congressional Committee fundraiser as a guest of House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.

But Simpson turned away and her press assistant immediately whisked her out of the room and through the media gauntlet of flash bulbs, cameras, and visitors screaming "There she is!"

This morning, when asked about Simpson declining the invitation, a forlorn Boehner said, "You know, I really feel like I got bagged."

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