Paul Ryan: Budget wonk, heartthrob Internet meme

Chris Moody
Political Reporter
The Ticket

It all started with a fantasy about noodling for catfish with Paul Ryan.

At her office in Chicago, Emily Zanotti, 30, a conservative political consultant, was reading Monday's New York Times profile of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan that mentioned his love of hunting catfish with his bare hands.

The image of Paul Ryan "standing half naked in a river"—as she envisioned it—gave Zanotti an idea.

Using, she pulled up three images of Ryan and put them behind the wonkiest, most inside-baseball political pickup lines that came to mind.

"Hey girl," the white text flashed in front of Ryan's picture, as he gazed longingly into the camera. "I had a dream about you last night. We were cutting the budget. It got pretty intense."

"Paul Ryan is sexy," Zanotti wrote above the pictures, which she posted on her blog, NakedDC. "Not in the regular way, of course, but in the, I might totally put a poster of him over my bed and kiss it goodnight once in a while as I ride to dreamland on sweet thoughts of economic freedom in a terrible haircut. Granted, I wouldn't want to marry him or something. But I would totally want Paul Ryan to live in my house and, like, do laundry or something and when commanded, lecture me on comparative economic policy."

She then splashed the photos across her personal Facebook page, where Washington, D.C.-based consultant Lyndsey Fifield spotted them and proposed they start posting them on Tumblr. The duo enlisted fellow NakedDC writer Lindsey Dodge, and the website Hey Girl, It's Paul Ryan was born.

With his light blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a body sculpted by a strict P90X exercise regimen in the congressional gym, Ryan has become quite the heartthrob among the conservative political junkie crowd. (In 2011, a female college journalism intern was so enamored with Ryan when she first met him that she broke down in tears after an interview in the Speaker's Lobby. True story.)

For three days now, the women have posted a steady stream of nerdy content that, while not everyone in the country will fully understand, those who do will find hilarious.

"Hey girl," reads one post, "Don't worry. IPAB might ration our healthcare. But it will never ration our love."

"Girl you got the mind of Friedrich Hayek," another reads. "In the body of Salma Hayek."

It didn't take long for the site to catch fire on Twitter. Luckily for the authors, Hey Girl launched during a week of recess on Capitol Hill, giving congressional staffers plenty of time to share their favorite posts.

Within hours, the women received new ideas submitted by congressional aides, which they posted on the site.

The plan, the women say, is to keep the site going as long as they can.

"We used to joke that if they had a Tiger Beat for politicos," Zanotti tells Yahoo News, referring to the celebrity gossip magazine for teenage girls, "we would have Paul Ryan pinned over our beds for sure."

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