Let this be a reminder: Sometimes, Congress can be really, really fun.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., told Southern California Public Radio this week about the time he met Vladimir Putin during a visit from a Russian delegation in the early 1990s. The congressman invited Putin, who was then the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, and two of his colleagues to spend the weekend with him. The rest is pretty brilliant history:
About 1990, or ‘91, communism has just fallen and it was no longer in existence, the Soviet Union, in fact now it’s Russia, and a group of young political leaders came to my office and they wanted to meet me because I’d been Reagan’s speech writer. Well, I talked to them and I asked them, “Well, I by the way, I’m spending the weekend here; any of you want to play some American football with me and my buddies?” Three of them said, “Yeah, sure,” so …
Well, I come to find out later that was Putin; I didn’t know who he was then. He was the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, that’s all we knew. But he did have a HUGE bodyguard, so that did sort of give a little hint that maybe he’s more important than just St. Petersburg.
So we went out and we played touch football, and uh, Scooter Libby was one of the players and a bunch of my right-wing friends were there, and so we all went over to this pub afterwards, the Irish Times Pub …
Wait, wait—you skipped ahead. who won that game?
Well it wasn’t us versus them, they played on both teams, and you know we just picked up sides. But we all wound up going to this Irish Times Pub afterwards. And we were having a little bit too much to drink, I guess, but anyway we all started arguing about who won the Cold War, etc. And so we decided to settle it like men do when they’ve had too much to drink in the pub.
So we got down to these arm-wrestling matches. And, uh, I ended up being paired off with Putin! And he’s, uh, he’s a little guy, but boy I’ll tell ya, he put me down in a millisecond. He is tough. It’s just BING you know, muscles are just unbelievable. And so then his bodyguard gets up and this buddy of mine says “Oh, I’ll take him” and my friend put his bodyguard down.
It was good, so, at that moment, you know, he’s a tough guy and he’s supposed to be a tough guy, and that’s what the Russian people want, but that’s no reason that we shouldn’t try to work with him.
We don’t have any photo evidence of the football or the arm wrestling, but this here picture should provide plenty of fodder for the imagination:(AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Government Press Service, file)