As the Democrats were taking control of both houses of Congress, two firms were helping launch a concurrent event in Second Life, ushering politics into the virtual world. Marketing firm Clear Ink partnered with Sun Microsystems ( SUNW) to produce streaming video of the opening of the 110th Congress, where Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) became the first woman to hold the position of speaker of the House. Through a virtual simulation of Capitol Hill, PC users across the globe could watch as the Democrats assumed simultaneous responsibility of the House and Senate for the first time since 1994. "It really is a pro bono project that we've done to support the democratic process and Second Life," says David Burk, CEO of Clear Ink. "Doing a representation of the House of Representatives is a very big deal. It feels like a very historic day." While Second Life, the 3-D virtual world created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, has become home to both individual users and big businesses such as Dell ( DELL), IBM ( IBM) and Cisco ( CSCO), Thursday's event brought the first real-world political event to the burgeoning world. Rep. George Miller of California plans to take part in Second Life discussions and field questions about the Democrats' first 100 legislative hours. Democrats have said they plan to increase the minimum wage and roll back tax breaks for the oil industry, among many other tasks, during that time. Burk says that John Gage, chief researcher and director of the science office with Sun Microsystems, initially hatched the idea to create a virtual Capitol Hill in Second Life. "Sun Microsystems has been the catalyst in all of this," Burk says. "When Congressman Miller said he'd like to do this event in Second Life, John Gage found us."