Sen. Mike Lee riffed off the now-famous Paul Harvey Super Bowl ad to praise his outgoing chief of staff, Spencer Stokes, by reading on the Senate floor a story of "So God Made a Chief of Staff."
"When God looked down on the Senate, he realized that the senators alone could never keep things running. He said, 'I need a caretaker!' So, God made a chief of staff," Lee said in an homage to the Dodge Ram advertisement that has been parodied scores of times since it aired during the Super Bowl earlier this month.
Stokes, who is returning to Utah to lobby, was Lee's right-hand man in Washington as the new Utah senator made his transition into office. Lee heralded his former top aide for launching Jell-O Wednesdays, ensuring the office was decorated in Utah art and carving out time each week for the staff to peruse small-town newspapers.
"I am fairly certain that when God looked down on a newly elected senator from Utah in 2010, he knew that any old chief of staff simply wouldn't do," Lee said. "So in my case he actually chose a farmer a turkey farmer from Bothwell, Utah: Spencer Stokes."
Lee's now-ex chief of staff watched the speech from the Senate gallery along with Lee's entire staff.
Hatch turns down a drink • It can't be easy being a Mormon in a Congress full of drinkers, especially when you're talking about the old days where it was standard to throw back a couple fingers of scotch in the evening hours at the Capitol.
Sen. Orrin Hatch mused recently of his first days in office when the then-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. James Eastland, D-Miss., invited the new Utah Republican for a visit.
"He invited me over to his office at 9:30 p.m. and he was very gruff," Hatch recalled during a Judiciary Committee hearing. Eastland "sat behind a desk and we got a little bit acquainted and [he] said, 'Senator, how about a drink?' And I said, 'Well, I'm sorry, sir, us Mormons, we don't drink alcoholic beverages.' "
Eastland, Hatch noted, wasn't impressed.
" 'What the hell is the matter with that Mormon church?' " Hatch recalls Eastland as saying. "And that was my introduction to the leadership of the Judiciary Committee."
Orrin pokes fun of Orrin • Hatch was introducing witnesses at a Senate Finance Committee hearing recently and paused when he came to one of the women on the panel.
"I've always wanted to meet somebody named Tweardy, I'll tell you," Hatch said to Bettina Tweardy Riveros, an adviser to Delaware Gov. Jack Markell.
"Am I pronouncing that right?" Hatch added.
"Actually, it's Tweardy," she replied. "And if you meet anyone else named Tweardy, they are related to me."
"Tweardy. All right," Hatch mused. "That's an interesting name. I'll tell you. It's almost as bad as Orrin, you know."
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Burr and Canham report from Washington, D.C. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or via Twitter @thomaswburr or @mattcanham.