Adam Kinzinger
Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, number five on The Hill’s "50 Most Beautiful People in Washington" list


Meet our cast of 50 stunning locals

It’s often said that Washington is "Hollywood for ugly people.” With that caveat, and given the agonizing stalemate over lifting the debt ceiling, it’s a nice distraction to look at the "50 Most Beautiful People in Washington" list, published annually since 2004 by the oh-so-serious The Hill, which covers D.C. in minute detail. (Full disclosure: I contribute to The Hill’s Pundits Blog.)

At number five, the highest ranking local is Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger, 33, Manteno’s pride and “the Tom Cruise of Congress”—the Air Force pilot who joined the military after Sept. 11 and served three tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. (His girlfriend is active duty Air Force.)

Further down the list, at number 16, is Democrat and Chicago native Dena Craig, 42, a former television producer who now works as communications director for Texas congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson.

Next, at number 20, is 22-year-old DePaul graduate and Republican Alyssa Palisi, whose hometown is Arlington Heights. She is staff assistant to Ohio Congressman Jim Renacci.

The last with Chicago-area ties is Dean Thompson, 23, whose hometown is Wheaton. He works as the senior adviser for whip operations for Illinois Congressman Peter Roskam. (Don’t let the job title fool you.) Thompson ranks 40th, but his interview ranks first in sheer silliness: One of his goals is daily flossing. “I have scratched in Sharpie in my mirror, ‘Floss every day,’” Thompson tells interviewer Ramsey Cox. “To get his well-styled hair,” Cox writes, “Thompson uses Goldwell wax, which comes in a tube dangerously similar to a stick of deodorant. ‘One time I put deodorant in my hair instead of the hair product,’ [Thompson] said. ‘So if you get hair gel that looks like deodorant, make sure that you know what you’re using when you put it in your hair in the morning.’” 

Last year, Jesse Jackson, Jr., in the throes of the Blago Senate seat payoff scandal, made The Hill’s list at number nine. He’s not included this year because, as the editors note, those who make it one year can never be featured again. That also explains why sexy GQ muscleman Aaron Schock, Republican congressman from Peoria—who was 19th on the 2009 list—wasn’t among the most beautiful in 2010 or 2011. 

Fifteen of the 26 women who made the 2011 list are self-identified Republicans. (Five others describe themselves with terms such as independent or centrist or nonpartisan.) Anyone who wants to offer an explanation as to why only six women who made the list describe themselves as Democrats, I’d love to hear it.


Photograph: Chicago Tribune