Seven Californians are on a list of 50 who were voted "Most Beautful People on Capitol Hill" by The Hill. It's a yearly contest judged by the newspaper's staff.
Call it what you will. But what it is, is a list of the "50 Most Beautiful People" working at the Capitol according to The Hill, which generally writes about Congressional leadership, health care reform, legislation and the more serious side of the issues facing Congress.
And just like any beauty pageant there always seems to be a Californian in the bunch. And this time there's a "pretty high percentage" of Californians, remarks Bob Cusack, editor of The Hill. Seven out of the 50 on the list to be exact.
"It's lovely," says Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) who says she's "astounded" by the reaction of her colleagues and "good cheer and teasing and compliments which felt good for a day but then it's back to the salt mines."
For Eshoo , the salt mines mean working to help her Silicon Valley constituents through the recession.
"I don't think anyone in this country hasn't been affected. I think Americans have been blessed for a long time, " she says.
For one thing she says, "we need to build a new energy future for our country. It would produce millions of jobs. We don't make too many things in our country anymore. We need to be making things in America. Obviously education is key to that but many workers don't have credentials like my constituents in the Silicon Valley have, so there should be places in the country to teach them."
Eshoo whom The Hill described as having Sophia Loren-esque looks is the oldest among the "Beautiful People," at 67. The average age of the others on the entire list is somewhere in their 20s.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) said it was "total shock" when she found out she not only made the list but was in the Top Ten. But like Eshoo, the fun is mixed with the serious side of helping out the "people who are hurting in East L.A. where the unemployment rate is 16.75 percent", which she describes as "unacceptable."
So she is pushing hard for an extension of a temporary federal job subsidy program known as "Jobs Now," which has produced 11,000 jobs in the past year. It expires at the end of September.
"People need to get back on their feet while going through this recession. It won't go on forever, so we need a bridge in a difficult time period."
She says she's also working on a positive alternative to school improvement programs, called Strengthening Our Schools, with the philosophy that there is no "one size fits all solution." Chu's district includes kids whose parents hold down two or three jobs at a time and have never been to college or speak English as a second language.
Even when you talk to the less experienced, among the "Beautiful Californians" on Capitol Hill, they too laughed about making the list. Twenty-seven-year-old Bret Manley said he was nominated for the past two or three years (he can't remember). The guys especially, he said, make fun of it all. He's single and grew up in San Dimas and went to UC Berkeley.
He's Congressman Gary Miller’s (R-CA) financial services policy adviser. So when you hear politicians on the floor say they'll "consult their staff," that means people like Bret who sift through and analyze the legislation and make it into plain speak. He is surrounded by all the talk about recession and sees it when he goes home to San Dimas to "empty strip malls, foreclosures in my neighborhood."
And then there's 23-year-old Allison Sadoian, who's the scheduler for Congressman George Radanovich (R-Calif.). It was a college internship in D.C., that lead to a job in Radanovich's office in Fresno, that lead to a full time job at his office on Capitol Hill where she loves her life. Her advice to people younger than her? Be "persistent. It takes working long hours, giving up your social life sometimes, definitely putting yourself out there and going for it. Don't stop till you reach goals and set new goals."
The Hill's editor told me they really had no criteria for deciding who made the list other than their own staff making the choice among hundreds of submissions. Looks, personality, interaction with staff definitely played a part. And there are no repeats. President Obama made The List before.
So when you take a look at the List of the 50 Most Beautiful People it's worth it to dig deeper beyond the surface, because it's likely you might find more.