September 10, 2015

It’s safe to say that liberal darling Rep. Nancy Pelosi would have little in common with “Scandal’s” Vice President Sally Langston, the ABC drama’s hard-line Christian conservative schemer (who also happens to be a homicidal maniac).

But there the two were — or, rather, there was Pelosi with Kate Burton, the actress who plays Langston — embracing in the ballroom of the Marriott Marquis on Thursday during a session of the U.S. Conference on AIDS. Burton, the daughter of actor Richard Burton (who knew?), presented the California Democrat with an award named after her stepmother, actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Burton, though, first had to reassure the crowd (which was made up of the type of folks for whom a mention of the Affordable Care Act constituted an applause line) that she came in peace. “I am nothing like Sally Langston,” she said. “I don’t think she would be standing here today, do you?”

Pelosi thanked Burton for the honor, presented on behalf of the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, and recalled appearing alongside her violet-eyed stepmother at a House Budget Committee hearing in the 1990, when AIDS was still a taboo topic in many circles. “The attention that came to Capitol Hill … it was historic, and it made a tremendous difference,” she said.

Pelosi, whose early activism was prompted by her large gay constituency in San Francisco, said she looked forward to a time when the disease is eradicated. “It will be relegated to a museum — people will take their children and say, ‘There was a time when HIV… invaded our community, but we overcame it.’”

Read the original story on washingtonpost.com