Heard on the Hill

High Jinks on the High Seas

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen will lead a Senate Energy subcommittee hearing today aboard the USS Kearsarge. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Several Members of Congress are stretching their sea legs today as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power takes the show on the water for a history-making hearing.

Subcommittee Chairwoman Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) will helm the first Senate field hearing aboard a ship in more than half a century. The last time sitting lawmakers got to inhabit a Navy vessel for a little live politicking was April 1960; that’s when the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy made itself at home aboard the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered submarine, in order to chat about nuclear security and Polaris missiles.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is expected to join Shaheen aboard the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault ship in operation since 1992, for the off-campus photo op.

While we sincerely hope the entire operation comes off without a hitch, we couldn’t help but reminisce about some of the nautically themed gaffes that have plagued other pols:

  • 2004: Then-presidential hopeful Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) was photographed kite boarding and was subsequently excoriated by conservative critics for being completely out of touch with middle America.
  • 1987: Then-presidential hopeful Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) was caught cavorting with Donna Rice aboard a yacht dubbed “Monkey Business” after goading reporters to follow him around to disprove rumored infidelity (you can’t make this stuff up).
  • 1977: Punk-rock pioneers the Sex Pistols serenade the British Parliament with their screeching rebuke of the Royal Family, “God Save the Queen,” whilst lazily cruising down the River Thames in a charter boat.
  • 1908: Former Sens. Marion Butler (N.C.) and Matthew Butler (S.C.), no relation, are hauled before their one-time colleagues and grilled for the untenable crime of wooing sitting lawmakers in pursuit of Navy contracts (or, as modern K Streeters might call it, “Tuesday”).