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The Senate's own Batman actor gets nod from Ben Affleck during testimony

Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Ben Affleck may have been testifying before congress, but that doesn't mean he can't take the time to recognize a fellow Batman franchise actor in Vermont senator Patrick Leahy.

"I would be remiss not to recognize my co-star in Batman," he said during the hearing. "Your role was marginally smaller than mine, but I understand you are quite good."

Leahy is a big fan of the character, but unlike most Batman fans he's managed to turn that interest into cameo roles in Batman: The Animated Series and no less than three Batman movies, with another appearance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice confirmed. At that point, he'll have appeared in more Batman feature films than any actor who's played Batman. That's a not-insignificant history with the franchise, rivaled only by Pat Hingle and Michael Gough, who appeared as Commissioner Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth, respectively, in all four of the Burton/Schumacher movies.

Here he is in The Dark Knight (0:38):

Of course, Affleck wasn't there just discuss Batman. He followed Bill Gates in speaking to the Senate subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs against a proposal to cut a $50 billion aid package of aid to African countries and give half of it to the Pentagon.

Affleck's non-profit organization Eastern Congo Initiative seeks to fund and publicize the work of local community organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly those that support survivors of sexual violence, caring for former child soldiers, creating better access to health care, promoting local businesses, and "running community-level peace and reconciliation programs." Affleck told the Senate subcommittee that the Eastern Congo Initiative has helped triple the incomes of the farmers by helping create coffee cooperatives and connecting those local farming groups with retailers like Starbucks. To pull aid now would scuttle the ECI's efforts, and revive the "history of mistrust and disappointment" many Congolese have experienced with promises of aid from other nations.

Other people speaking at the hearing included Senator Lindsey Graham, who characterized the $50 billion sum of the aid package as a "rounding error" compared to the overall federal budget, and Bill Gates, who urged the Senate to consider the package's support of his own foundation's efforts to eradicate polio, malaria and other diseases from the rural areas of African countries.

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