HOBBIES: THEY SOUND SO MUNDANE. Watercoloring, gardening, cooking, tinkering with the family car . . . there’s not much there in the way of world-class news or interest. And as a group, congress-people are pretty much like you and me, finding a bit of respite in the serenely ordinary. (Although we’re guessing that the harmonies among the Singing Senators have gone a little, well, atonal since former harmonizer James Jeffords of Vermont bolted the Republican Party.)
But wait. What if those hobbies were just covers? Just façades? What if when Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) told you that he practiced ventriloquism in his spare time, what he meant was that he could secretly put words into the mouths of leaders worldwide, inducing trade accords and urgent bilateral treaties? What if when Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (R-California) told you that he surfed, what he meant was that he could become “Supersurfer,” secretly replenishing fish stocks in depleted U.S. waters and assisting wayward mariners?
What if what was really keeping the United States a superpower was the unheralded superpowers of some of its leading legislators-the C-Force? A group of selfless titans who in addition to Ventro and Supersurfer included Wyoming’s Republican senator Craig Thomas, “The Roper,” whose horse’s spurs distributed authentic Great Plains grass seedlings while horse and rider lassoed contraband interstate commerce? Who included Rep. Mary Bono (R-California), “BonoPublico,” whose martial-arts expertise empowered women entering her wide-ranging magnetic field? Who included “Nighthorse,” Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colorado), whose handmade silver jewelry deflected low-frequency radio waves as he rode his motorcycle and repaired the ozone layer?
It’s just a thought.
ARTS AND LETTERS
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) paint watercolors.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) writes and has published novels.
Rep. Phil Crane (R-Illinois) writes poetry, especially love poems to his wife and daughters.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), Jeffords and Attorney General John Ashcroft (when he was in the Senate) performed as the Singing Senators.
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-California) plays violin.
Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-Florida), a self-admitted frustrated rock star, plays in a band called RegularJoe, which performed at the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia.
Rep. David Obey (D-Wisconsin) plays harmonica and performs with his two sons and friends in a bluegrass band, The Capitol Offenses, which has recorded three albums.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-New York) was a torch singer with a dance band and still joins in song when she has the opportunity.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) writes inspirational songs for Gladys Knight and other performers.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) is the only member of Congress ever to pilot an airplane around the world.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) flies his 1946 Piper Cub.
Rep. Colin Peterson (D-Minnesota) also flies his own plane to “rise above it all.”
Rep. Carrie Meek (D-Florida), a former dance instructor, says dancing is one of the elements of true bi-partisanship. She taught the Electric Slide to Newt Gingrich when he was speaker.
Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), George Miller (D-California), Adam Schiff (D-California), AnthonyWeiner (D-New York), Ellen Tauscher (D-California), Joe Crowley (D-New York) and Loretta Sanchez (D-California) do stand-up comedy (not the kind we see on C-SPAN).
Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and John Breaux (D-Louisiana) hunt.
Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas) and Joann Davis (R-Virginia) ride horses.
House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) has a secret fishing hole “inside the Beltway” where hebass fishes.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) kayaks.
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana) moonlights as an auctioneer at charity events.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) carves wooden duck decoys and tinkers with old cars.
Rep. Amo Houghton (R-New York) is a glass blower from Corning, New York, who has been playing drums since 1937. He has a band called Amo & the Swing Voters that plays at Washington events.
Rep. David Dreier (R-California) collects vintage watches.
Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), a former veterinarian, spends time with his dog and is an avid gardener and horticulturist.