Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Ron Wyden

Oregon Democrat is pulling for the Warriors in close NBA Finals

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., shows off his father's novel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In this week's Take Five, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore. , talks about when he was elected to the Senate, the NBA Finals and his father’s career as an author.  

Q : What’s your  favorite food from Oregon?  

A : That one’s not a hard call. We have an iconic store, Fred Meyer, and I have had roasted chicken at every Fred Meyer in Oregon. Enough that the staff always kids me about it. We have town meetings in all the counties and stop at Fred Meyer and eat the chicken and then we’re off to the next one.  

Q : What is your all-time favorite movie?  

A : Easy call: "Rocky." When I won the election in 1996, I became Oregon’s first Democrat to be elected in 34 years. It was a special election. The music they were playing was the theme song of "Rocky" because I was the underdog and my opponent was Gordon Smith, who actually won the next Senate seat that came open in the fall of ’96.  

Q : As a former college basketball player and a Portland Trail Blazers fan, who are you rooting for in the NBA Finals?  

A : I always say this to high school kids: Don’t follow my model because I’m not very proud of the fact that I didn’t do a lot of studying in high school. I was interested in only one thing and that was playing in the NBA. With respect to this series, my take would be that LeBron [James of the Cleveland Cavaliers] of course is just a world-class player. But I get the sense that the [Golden State] Warriors just have too many players and too much depth .  

UNITED STATES - JUNE 8: Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., tosses a basketball during an interview with Roll Call in his Dirksen Building office, June 8, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., tosses a behind the back pass to an aide in his office. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Q : When you can leave your desk for lunch, where's your favorite place to eat in the Capitol?  

A : I just run down to the cafeteria, I probably don’t go out a lot. I’ll just go down to the cafeteria in Dirksen. I recommend the turkey burger.  

Q : Your father wrote several books. Can you show me your favorite?  

A : My favorite book is this one, "Bay of Pigs: The Untold Story," and there is a picture of Fidel Castro and my dad on the back. And Castro’s caption is, 'He knows more about it then we do.'  I’m on the Intelligence Committee and I’ve put a big focus on really trying to get vigorous oversight — I spent many months preparing to ask Director [James] Clapper the question, 'Did the government collect any type of data at all on hundreds of millions of Americans?' And he answered falsely and that really, I think, transformed the debate about intelligence.  

Mr. [Edward] Snowden often says that’s why he made the information public. My dad always said that journalists and those who are in a position to help people get knowledge, [should] hold institutions accountable — he’d always say, ‘Ron Boy, the job is to ask the tough questions. Ask the hard questions, that sometimes make people uncomfortable, but need to be asked.’"

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.