10 Quirky Things Politicians Do

LUDOVIC MARIN, AFP/Getty Images
LUDOVIC MARIN, AFP/Getty Images

We elect our Senators and Representatives with the expectation that they'll bring our interests to the legislative process and work to bettering the country. But the truth is, they're not always the most normal people themselves. Here are 10 of the quirkiest current Congressmen—be sure to chime in with your own legislator stories in the comments.

1. Collin Peterson (and his bandmates)

Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota may lead the House Agriculture Committee, but he may be better known for his musical career. His first Congressional band, The Amendments, broke up in a political dispute after some members wanted to play at the Republican National Convention. But Peterson found a new group of bipartisan musicians and formed The Second Amendments. The band features Peterson on lead guitar and vocals, Thaddeus McCotter on guitar, Dave Weldon on bass, Jon Porter on keyboards and Kenny Hulshof on drums. They play anything from rock to country (check out their gig at Farm Aid) and say political differences haven’t gotten in their way yet.

They’re not the first Congressional band either – four former Republican senators sang in a barbershop quartet known as the Singing Senators.

2. Kent Conrad

Kent Conrad knows a thing or two about an engaging presentation, especially with his fondness for visual aids. He was so well-known for printing poster-sized charts that when he became chairman of the Budget Committee in 2001, he was given his own printing machine for his office. Among his notable charts was one where he illustrated the debt under each President. Of course, Conrad isn’t the only Congressman to rely on catchy charts – many his colleagues are known for their elaborate charts, especially Rep. Kevin Brady's visual mess attacking the bureaucracy in the health care bill.

3. Al Franken

As a former SNL comedian, it’s probably not surprising to see Al Franken on this list. After all, the Minnesota Democrat famously cracked the chamber up during his opening statement during the Sonia Sotomayor hearings. But his real talent may be when he’s not talking – photographers snapped him doing some impressive sketches of Sen. Jeff Sessions during the confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan. And that’s not to mention his famous party trick: drawing a freehand map of the United States from memory.

4. Amy Klobuchar

Franken wasn’t the only one to bring levity to the Kagan hearings. Fellow Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar asked a bizarre question of the prospective justice the day after Eclipse, the third Twilight movie, debuted. “I keep wanting to ask you about the famous case of Edward vs. Jacob, or the vampire vs. the werewolf,” she said. To her credit, Kagan responded appropriately, telling the senator, “I wish you wouldn’t.”

5. Nancy Pelosi

A show embracing drug use, free love and plentiful nudity might not seem like the place you’d expect to see the Speaker of the House. But Nancy Pelosi is said to love Hair and checks out the musical every chance she gets. She’s even been spotted dancing on the stage at the end of the show.

6. Patty Murray

Patty Murray successfully ran a number of her early campaigns as “a mom in tennis shoes,” since she was just a regular person, not a career politician. Now that she’s serving her third term in the Senate, that image has carried her far and she’s not ready to give it up. Now a “grandmother in tennis shoes,” she’s given to wearing sneakers while conducting official business.

7. Jon Tester

Jon Tester is known for giving friends and colleagues a thumb-and-pinkie hook ‘em horns sign for motivation. But he doesn’t have much of a choice – Tester lost the three middle fingers on his right hand in a meat grinder accident when he was nine.

8. Kit Bond

Kit Bond's dog Tiger (named after the University of Missouri mascot) isn't what you'd expect to see from the Republican Senator. Tiger, a furry Havanese, is the Senator's first "fufu dog." A frequent visitor to Conrad's office, Tiger is famous for destroying Kansas Jayhawks toys. Others also bring their dogs to work - the late Robert Byrd was known for praising his dogs in floor speeches and this picture shows Kent Conrad walking his dog Dakota through the halls of the Capitol.

9. John Kerry

John Kerry is an avid biker, so much so that he requires a bike even when he’s traveling. According to a memo obtained by The Smoking Gun, Kerry asked for a recumbent (not a stationary) bike in his hotel room. That’s on top of bottled water, Boost shakes and a television where he could order movies.

10. Earl Blumenauer

Rep. Earl Blumenauer paints an impressive picture, with his fondness for bow ties and the constant presence of a bicycle pin on his shirt. The pin represents his love for bicycling – not only is he known for biking into work, he is also the founding member of the Congressional Bike Caucus, a 160-member group working to promote biking through legislation.

The New Apple Watch SE Is Now Available on Amazon

Apple/Amazon
Apple/Amazon

Apple products are notorious for their high price tags. From AirPods to iPads to MacBooks, it can be difficult to find the perfect piece of tech on sale when you are ready to buy. Luckily, for those who have had their eye on a new Apple Watch, the Apple Watch SE is designed with all the features users want but at a lower starting price of $279— and they're available on Amazon right now.

The SE exists as a more affordable option when compared to Apple's new Series 6 line of watches. This less expensive version has many of the same functions of its pricier brethren, except for certain features like the blood oxygen sensor and electrical heart sensor. To make up for the truncated bells and whistles, the SE comes in at least $120 cheaper than the Series 6, which starts at $400 and goes up to $800. The SE comes with technical improvements on previous models as well, such as the fall detection, a faster processor, a larger screen, water resistance, and more.

Now available in 40mm ($279) and 44mm ($309), both SE models offer a variety of colors to choose from, such as sliver, space gray, and pink. If you want cellular connection, you’ll have to pay a bit more for the 40mm ($329) and the 44mm ($359).

For more, head to Amazon to see the full list of offerings from Apple.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

10 Awesome Things Bill Murray Has Done

What unpredictable but awesome thing will Bill Murray do next?
What unpredictable but awesome thing will Bill Murray do next?
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for RFF

Bill Murray—who was born on September 21, 1950—is known for popping up and doing something awesome every once in a while. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Karaoked With Total Strangers

When a group of karaokers saw Murray enter NYC's Karaoke One 7 one night in January 2011, one of them worked up the courage to invite the movie star into their private karaoke room. Fifteen minutes later, Murray knocked on their door. "He was super nice and they all fit right in," one of the karaoke crew, Mike, told The Chive. "He bought us all a round of some weird green drink and wouldn't tell us what it was. ... The high point was when Bill and I sang a duet of an Elvis song called, 'Marie's the Name.'" Murray and his friends stuck around for the next four hours.

2. Walked Down a Hallway in Slow Motion

Why ask for Bill Murray's autograph when you can ask him to stroll down a hallway with you in slow motion? David Walton Smith told Reelz that he was making a commercial for a school in South Carolina that one of Murray's children attends; Murray was appearing in the spot. Smith didn't want to give Murray a bunch of things to autograph at the end of the shoot, and instead proposed asking the actor to walk with him and his friends down the hallway (they slowed it to slow motion in post). Murray, of course, obliged.

3. Got Invited to a Party, Did the Host's Dishes

Even when he's crashing parties, Bill Murray is polite. During a 2006 trip to St. Andrews, Scotland, for a celebrity golf tournament, Murray accompanied 22-year-old anthropology student Lykke Stavnef—whom he and his friends had met in a bar—to a house party. "Nobody could believe it when I arrived at the party with Bill Murray," she told The Telegraph. Murray then washed all the dishes in the students' sink. "It was really funny because he was pretty old compared with all the other people there, but he was so relaxed and it was really amusing when he started to wash up," Stavnef said.

4. Looked Great in a Christmas Card

“How and why I got this from Bill Murray, I have no idea!” wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper once tweeted. (The Frisky also published this card in 2012.)

5. Used an ice Luge at his Christmas Party

It should come as no surprise that, in addition to looking great on holiday cards, the actor throws epic Christmas parties, which he told Esquire include an ice luge for booze:

"It's a big magilla to get an ice luge, but if you do, you can pour vodka into it and it chills it on the way down. It looks like an Olympic ski jump. It's more for visual effect. You can put your head underneath it, like you're guzzling gasoline, but we just fill shot glasses. Hundreds of little shot glasses. So, we drank this stuff, and it took the party to a completely other level. The party lasted much longer. No one left. The year before, people would leave at, like, two or three in the morning. With the vodka luge, they didn't leave until five. The last two years I've had this luge. That's how I like to drink. Out of a large ice structure."

Murray Christmas, indeed.

6. Played Kickball with Random People

Kickballers enjoying a game on Roosevelt Island in October 2012 when Murray "popped out of nowhere," team member Chris DiLella told Entertainment Weekly. "He was bouncing the ball… ran over to second base. Played for a bit… Gave us all high-fives and let us pose with him in the picture."

7. Bartended at SXSW

During a visit to Austin's Shangri-La during SXSW 2010, Murray hopped behind the bar to serve drinks (apparently, even if a patron asked for whiskey, he'd give them tequila). Someone caught it on video, which you can see above.

8. Gave an Excellent Speech at a Bachelor Party

In 2014, Murray crashed a bachelor party in Charleston, South Carolina, and gave an excellent, impromptu speech:

"You know how they say funerals aren't for the dead but for the living? Bachelor parties are not for the groom, they are for [the other guys]. So, I'm going to give you all advice, because it's too late for this one. If you have someone you think is the one, don't just sort of think in your ordinary mind, think 'Okay, let's make a date, let's plan this and make a party and get married.' Take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. If when you come back to JFK [airport], when you land in JFK and you are still in love with that person, get married at the airport!"

Wise words.

9. Crashed a Couple's Engagement Photoshoot

Not long after he crashed that bachelor party, Murray happened upon Ashley Donald and Erik Rogers taking engagement photos in downtown Charlestown and decided to get in on the action. "When I set up Ashley and Erik, I saw this look of surprise on their faces as they looked over my shoulder. I asked them to look at the camera, but they just looked stunned and with his eyes, Erik motioned that I better look behind me," Raheel Gauba of Fia Forever Photography told the Huffington Post. "As I turned around to potentially ask the person distracting them to give us a moment, I see Bill Murray with his shirt up, belly out and patting it—his attempt to make the couple laugh. I joined the couple in the shock and surprise of the moment. At that point, I invited him to join the couple for a quick shot and he did. So genuine and nice of him to make the couple's day!"

10. Read Poetry to Construction Workers

When New York City's Poets House was being built in 2009, Murray showed up to read poetry to the construction workers. He began with Billy Collins's "Another Reason I Don’t Keep a Gun in the House," joking afterwards, "They get worse, OK, so if you want to lie down or get sick, take a sick day, do it now." He followed it with a poem for "the shorter attention span crowd," Lorine Niedecker’s "Poets Work" and finished with Emily Dickinson's "I Dwell in Possibility." Murray could not, unfortunately, get any of the workers to volunteer to read their own poetry.