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Kathy Griffin wears lobbyist hat for a day, urging repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Kathy Griffin sits with Arianna Huffington, right, at Ris resturant on Tuesday night. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

Kathy Griffin -- actress, comedienne, reality-show star -- has a new title: professional lobbyist.

Well, not really. But she was having fun calling herself one after Tuesday's visit to Capitol Hill, where she spent the day trying to repeal the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

"I was nervous the whole time because it's not my world, obviously," Griffin told us. "Also, I have a problem with the potty mouth, so I didn't know how far I could go when joking with these legislators -- and I learned not far at all. Almost every one of my jokes was taken as a serious statement, even when I asked the majority whip to whip me."

The uncensored comic, who has a devoted following of gay fans, brought her "My Life on the D List" reality show to the nation's capital for a week of high-profile events: meetings with House Majority Whip James Clyburn and Rep. Barney Frank, strategy sessions with gay rights activists, the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner on Wednesday, and a noon rally with the Human Rights Campaign on Thursday at Freedom Plaza.

First, a small lesson on the Ways of Washington: When a friend told her she needed to wear a suit for her visit to the Hill, she thought he was joking.

"So I thought, 'Okay, then I'll wear jeans with heels' and, by the way, a fabulous Herrera blazer," she said. But her friend was right: "I really did feel self-conscious because as the day went on, I realized I kind of looked like an [ass] wearing jeans, even though I had Louboutins on. So I got that wrong."

Kathy Griffin's Fendi shoes. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

Griffin changed into the outfit she wished she had worn on the Hill (hot pink Valentino coat, demure Chanel sleeveless dress, towering Fendi heels) for a dinner in her honor at Ris restaurant on Tuesday hosted by Hilary Rosen and HRC President Joe Solmonese. Griffin's film crew, which was shooting the reception, was surprised when most of the guests declined to wear a microphone, which prevented their cocktail chatter from being part of the show.

"Doesn't everyone want to be miked?" asked a surprised producer accustomed to California ways. Well, no, not in D.C., but Arianna Huffington was one of the few who happily complied and carried on a long, earnest on-camera exchange.

The taping is for this season's "serious" episode -- Griffin has 300,000 fans on Twitter, 3 million viewers, plus plenty of gay soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, where she has performed. Doesn't make her an expert, but does get the notice of lawmakers on the "don't ask" issue. "They pay attention to the numbers," Solmonese said. "She's kind of an interesting bridge between the two worlds."

But the comic said she wasn't particularly encouraged by her first lobbying effort. "I heard a lot of double-speak and all the reasons it's not going to happen now."

Griffin teetered out of the party in her Fendis, laughing about the "ridiculous" assortment of designer footwear she'd brought to D.C. ("I have a disorder"). She stopped and reconsidered. "The amount of gay men that I ran into did actually prove that it's a good thing I overpacked the shoes and bags. While Jim Clyburn really couldn't give a [shoot] about my shoes, several people in that very hallway definitely took notice."

By The Reliable Source  |  March 18, 2010; 1:04 AM ET
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Who could possibly care what Kathy Griffin does, says, or wears? How sad that we are still bedeviled by the tired, threadbare machinations of the once 1/2 of a "power couple" left over, Hilary Rosen.

Arianna looks great but her continued association with Rosen suggests she needs to wake up. will continue to out class Huffington Post as long as Huffington continue to deal only in yesterday's news.

Don't believe me, ask the recording industry how Rosen worked out for them!

Posted by: ManOpener | March 18, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

How sad that Kathy Griffin is the best HRC could do to advocate for the gay community.
Was Richard Simmons not available? Truly a pathetic embarassment.

Posted by: ManOpener | March 18, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, you have to fight fire with fire. Glenn Beck is a pathetic embarrassment on so many levels, but he gets things moving for the right. There are plenty of moneyed gays who will be motivated to donate and push legislative agendas because Kathy tells the truth and makes them laugh.

Posted by: xandersun | March 18, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

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