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"The sense of so much of the work that we do is helping others and giving back to the community," Carnahan said. Boy Scouting gave me "some of my earliest memories of doing that and doing it on my own as my own person."
Lesson No. 10: Handling Poisonous Snakes
Rohrabacher wasn't really kidding when he joked that befriending those slithering creatures helped him on Capitol Hill. One story he remembers fondly has an important lesson for lawmaking hidden within.
On a camping trip, a fellow Boy Scout started screaming that he had seen a snake in a woodpile. The scoutmaster came over, caught the snake and caged it, though the young Scout insisted that the one he had seen was bigger.
A few minutes later, the scoutmaster and the troop glanced back to see a huge snake slithering out of the woodpile. The Scout quickly put a stick on the snake's tail, just far enough from his body that its lunges didn't reach his legs.
"When you're dealing with snakes, make sure you got the right one and make sure you go for the head," Rohrabacher said. "There are a lot of political lessons to be learned from that as well. If you're going to confront some piece of legislation, don't go for the tail that might not be so bad. Go for the worst element in that legislation and focus on that. Don't attack the stuff on the periphery."
Their Toughest Merit Badges
These Members of Congress earned the rank of Eagle Scout, but not without a little trouble along the way.
• Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) failed his first-aid merit badge twice.
• Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) had trouble with basketry. "It's actually really hard," he said.
• Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) had trouble finishing his cooking merit badge, although he learned to squirrel away cans of extra food.
• Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) failed to earn the rifle and shotgun badge because he was too small to hold the guns.