Brad Pitt goes to Capital, everyone freaks out

Yesterday, we reported on the impending meeting between Brad Pitt, representing Make It Right NOLA and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The meeting happened Wednesday afternoon, and it was quite the spectacle.

MSNBC ran live coverage of Brad’s “statement” outside of the Speaker’s office – it amounted to a quick, polite “thank you for meeting with me”. MSNBC treated Brad’s visit like Dick Cheney shot somebody. They actually interrupted their coverage of Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ daily conference.

The Hill has a long story about the chaos Brad caused in the Capital building. People were going crazy. Congressional staffers, pages and even members of Congress were behaving like crazed, glassy-eyed Brangelunatics. But first, let The Hill set the scene:

Brad Pitt became the latest Hollywood star to lobby Congress, eliciting gasps and screams from staffers and tourists as he strode about the Capital complex to meet with three top lawmakers.

Celebrity sightings on Capitol Hill are hardly the exception as the lines blur between filmmaking and politicking. But the appearance of an A-lister can shake up the day’s agenda and turn suited staffers into fired-up fans.

Upon entering the office of Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) Pitt, dressed in a simple black suit, black vest and white shirt, said he had a simple message for her. When asked what he planned to say to Murray, the goateed actor responded with a smile.

“Hello,” he said.

In truth, Pitt was on Capitol Hill to discuss Make It Right NOLA, a project he helped launch in 2007 to construct affordable and environmentally sustainable housing for low-income residents of the lower 9th Ward in New Orleans who lost their homes as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Pitt was in Washington with Steven Bing, a longtime Democratic fundraiser and friend of Bill Clinton.

By mid-afternoon, Pitt had left Murray’s office to head to a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Pitt’s 3:30 p.m. scheduled photo opportunity with Pelosi began early — a rarity for the Speaker’s schedule — because, as one aide put it, “there were too many people.”

“It really is an honor to have him here and I know for some of my staff, and for bragging rights to my children and my grandchildren, a real treat for me as well,” Pelosi said at the press conference, which was carried live by some television networks.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) also welcomed Pitt to the Capitol. “I did not realize when the Speaker asked me to head the Katrina Task Force that it would lead to my getting in a position to make my grandchildren so envious of me because this ethic brought the two of us, Brad Pitt and myself, together,” he told reporters.

“I just want to say thank you to the Speaker for opening up doors for us to come in and discuss the rebuilding effort – the current rebuilding effort going on in New Orleans and how we can expand this idea of affordability and sustainability because we think we have a model that works,” Pitt said in front of the cameras before meeting privately with Pelosi.

Pitt also met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier in the day, though Reid’s office was mum on how the chat went. “First rule about Reid-Pitt meeting: Don’t talk about Reid-Pitt meeting,” Reid spokesman Rodell Mollineau wrote in an e-mail.

Pitt and Murray were a bit more candid about their meeting. “It went very well,” Pitt said after leaving Murray’s Russell office. “We were talking about the rebuilding efforts.”

A spokeswoman for Murray concurred. “They had a good meeting and discussed the need for affordable sustainable housing and creating green collar jobs,” Alex Glass wrote in an e-mail.

As he made his way to the Capitol, Pitt said, “It’s an honor to be here,” when asked of his impressions of the Capitol and its lawmakers.

From The Hill

MSNBC actually showed Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Clyburn’s statements live, and in the background, you could see Brad wincing as they mentioned their grandchildren. Apparently, Congressional grandchildren love Brad Pitt. And who knew Harry Reid and his staff were such die-hard Fight Club fans? Or were they attempting to look cool?

The Hill also reports on some of the other reactions from people in the Capital building:

[Brad Pitt], whose partner, Angelina Jolie, is also in town filming a movie, took the Senate subway from Murray’s office building to the Capitol, then walked past the Senate floor and through the Rotunda on his way to Pelosi’s office. Flanked by no fewer than six bodyguards and police officers, Pitt drew spontaneous gasps from tourists as he walked through the building.

“You must be tired,” he chuckled at one point to a photographer who had pursued him from Russell to the Capitol. A gaggle of pages ran down the back stairwell to find Pitt after Capitol Police cleared a hallway upstairs, and one aide close to the Speaker said, “He has more security than the prime minister of England,” who had addressed a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday.

Pelosi’s office made no immediate comments on the meeting, but in a staff meeting earlier in the day, some Pelosi aides discussed what to say if the media asked why she was meeting with Pitt.

An aide said, “All the women in the room said, ‘Why not?’”

Mary Tarr, the office manager for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), waved a sign at Pitt as he walked into Murray’s office.

“Angeline, Christine and Lindsay, I’m here at the Capitol talking to your mom,” the sign read. She was hoping to get Pitt to take a photo with her so her daughters would believe she saw him.

“I never do this — I swear,” she said.

One female tourist was expecting star sightings at the Capitol, but not Pitt.

“I would rather have seen the president, but I’ll take Brad Pitt,” she said to her companion.

By 3:45 p.m., hordes of tourists parked around the Rotunda perimeter and outside Pelosi’s office in anticipation of Pitt’s exit. Staffers outside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office had their cameras primed for quick shots. Pitt left his meeting with Pelosi out a back door at 3:55.

“I’d rather not say,” he said when asked how his meeting with the House Speaker went.

“Thanks for coming,” a female staffer outside McConnell’s office said to him as he walked by, sunglasses in hand. He finally left the Capitol complex at 4 p.m., whisked out by his security team in a black Ford SUV.

From The Hill

It’s pretty obvious some people were trying to act cool, trying to act like they had a modicum of self-respect. And some just wanted to treat the Capital building like a red carpet rope-line. Ordinarily, I might feel some disgust with these professional public servants getting in such a tizzy over Brad, but I just end up feeling bad for them. They were starved for a little glamour. They earned him.

Here’s coverage from MSNBC:

Thanks to for these photos of Pitt’s press conference with Nancy Pelosi yesterday. He is also shown with Democratic Whip James Clyburn, the head of the House’s Katrina task force.

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22 Responses to “Brad Pitt goes to Capital, everyone freaks out”

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  1. geronimo says:

    Don’t want to piss on Pitt’s chips here but Pelosi’s gushing response to his visit is pretty inappropriate. Applaud Pitt’s efforts 100% but lately, the seriousness with which the media is granting the celebrity, rather than the cause, is really counter-productive. Same with Clooney and Darfur being branded ‘George Clooney’s Crusade’ on the Anderson Cooper interview – Clooney’s done his bit and all credit to him for that, but why are they not now interviewing the people with serious Darfur credentials (not to mention influence? Pelosi and others here should have reined in the gush and let NOLA, rather than Pitt, take centre stage.

    I can really understand Obama wanting to distance himself from Hollywood.

  2. crab says:

    I wish actors would just act and musicians would just play music and leave the politics to politicians!!

  3. NotBlonde says:

    It’s pretty sad when the leader of the Katrina task force and a grown ass man is gushing over Brad Pitt.

    Not only was it highly inappropriate, it also goes to show where our priorities are as a country. Brad Pitt is doing great work in Louisiana but the focus should be on that work, not whether or not grandchildren will be envious.

  4. czarina says:

    @crab–I agree in terms of election politics (as in who is getting elected) that actors and musicians campaigning tend to do more harm than good.
    I disagree, however, in terms of joining politics and efforts such as affordable housing. A star like Pitt can bring huge media attention to an important issue (as you can see DID happen), and that can galvanize politicians to act.
    If more people took an interest in what politicians were doing, in what THEY could do (by writing, showing up, getting a petition, voting, etc), the democratic system could be used for a great deal of good.
    Too many people abdicate their own responsibilities and then whine about how lousy their country is being run.

  5. Kaiser says:

    Geronimo – I was impressed with how low-key Brad seemed during the ZOMG LIVE Coverage Event!!! – he really looked embarassed.

    Clyburn was less gushy, thank God.

  6. serena says:

    He is amazing!!! He and Angelina are just an amazing. They say Goda has a plan for our lives, I think Brad and Angie and their family are part of it. They do good in this world. There are too few people who do.

  7. anastasiabeaverhausen says:

    I always thought I’d be super cool if I ever met a celebrity. I’m honestly not a celeb worshipper. (I dislike more of them than I like!)

    But all it takes is really putting that theory to the test to discover you are a RAGING DORK inside. I’ve since met a few celebs and all I can say is that I turned into a drooling half-human incapable of coherent thought or speech. It was RIDICULOUSLY embarrassing and I berated myself later for it. What the hell? I just turned into some sort of slobbering idiot.

    I’ve resolved to be cooler next time. I swear it.

    Anyway, my way of saying apparently not even people elected to Congress are immune to this weird reaction.

  8. geronimo says:

    Kaiser – yeah, no probs with Pitt at all here, it’s the gush, particularly from Pelosi, that soured it for me. Just more amunition for those who detest what comes across here as inappropriate pandering to celebrity. Does neither the celeb nor the cause any good. But JMO!

  9. j. ferber says:

    I don’t care who your are– you have the right to gush over Brad Pitt.

  10. Aha! says:

    Shame on Pelosi for acting the way she did.. Look at those pictures. Where did substance go?

  11. boomchakaboom says:

    Aww. Our Congressmen/women have feelings too. Who knew?

  12. Autumm Leaves says:

    Brad should be commended for his post Katrina efforts. He’s done more than the gov’t in helping rebuild N.O.L.A.

  13. Tess says:

    basking in the warm glow of their sheer wonderfulness.

  14. Feebee says:

    Gush away politicos but have you not learned that there’s a time and place? In front of live national media, it’s probably not the time. When he’s in ‘your house’, it’s not the place. It takes away from the reason he was there and that’s just disrespectful.

    Course I’m not a Brangeloonie, what do I know?

  15. Annie says:

    I think that politics is in everything, and it’s good to see people being vocal about it. Period.

    Politics is in your everyday life, it’s in the way things are run, it’s in the way we get paid, all of it. Don’t think it just resides under the Capital building’s Dome.

  16. Sauronsarmy says:

    Makes sense. People need celebrities to tell them how to dress, how to lose weight, what do to, how to live healthier, not to take drugs, the list goes on and on. People just can’t think for themselves.

  17. Tess says:

    and the celebs, who can’t wait to line up and support the nannie state and all its causes, one of which is taxing and regulating cigarettes…

    well, take a look at almost every film and TV show that depicts smoking celebs as cool, hip, sexy. And it’s aimed right at impressionable teens.

    What a bunch of Hypocrits.

  18. Lara says:

    I was really impressed with Pitt. He seemed to genuinely be there for the cause and not to toot his own horn. Pelosi could not stop smiling. She looked like a school girl, showing off her brand new puppy to the class. Her speech was embarrassing, but it didnt’ seem to phase Pitt..he’s probably used to it all by now.

  19. Jane says:

    ZOMG that phrase is so annoying!