His career may be in the tank and his White House dreams shattered, but there’s some good news for Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. this week: He made The Hill’s “50 Most Beautiful People 2010” list—even cracking the coveted top ten. Number nine on the list, Jesse Jr. beat out everybody’s favorite Cosmo centerfold, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, who came in at number 29.
And Jackson, 45, does indeed look beautiful in his posed photo. In the short profile under the picture, The Hill’s Kris Kitto writes that, while in Congress, Jackson’s weight ballooned to 310 pounds, which led to gastric bypass surgery in 2004 and his current “svelte 175-pound figure.” In the article, Jackson—who in 1997 was chosen as People magazine’s pick for sexiest politician—asks: “What’s next? GQ?”
Kitto also writes: “Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. recently read Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. The lessons he took from it? `The past is gone … live in the moment,’ Jackson says.”
Not a bad idea in Jackson’s case. He got hugely embarrassing press in the Blago blowup. Sure, he dodged a bullet by not being called to testify at the governor’s corruption trial, but not before it was revealed that his supporters allegedly offered Blago at least $1 million worth of fundraising in exchange for Barack Obama’s Senate seat. One of the choicest lines in Sam Adam Jr.’s closing arguments on Tuesday was: “They arrested Rod Blagojevich. You know who didn’t get arrested? Jesse Jackson Jr.”
As for the rest of the “most beautiful” list, there are two other locals on it—both congressional staffers: Joliet-born Hudson Hollister (#14), counsel for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Deerfield native Hillary Caron (#24), a former intern for then-Senator Obama, now a law student.
Notably absent from the list this year was the usual winner of all sorts of sexy lists: Republican congressman and Peoria native Aaron Schock, number 19 on the 2009 list.
On a related note, last month, The Hill released its list of 25 hardest working congressmen, which neither Schock nor Jackson Jr. made.
Jackson’s chief of staff, Theresa Caldwell, responded to repeated requests for an interview with her boss—and my call this morning for a comment on the Hill list—with: “The Congressman will not be doing any interviews.”
Photograph: Chicago Tribune