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Trey Radel Sticks His Nose Back Into Politics

Radel addresses a Hispanic Heritage Month event in the U.S. Capitol in September 2013. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Now clear-headed after treatment for a substance abuse problem that cost him his job in the House, Florida Republican Trey Radel is back on the political scene with unwanted advice for current pols and a forthcoming tell-all.

The first-time lawmaker stood out from his colleagues on Capitol Hill because of a fascination with rap music and an aptitude for social media. He became infamous less than a year into his inaugural term after he was arrested for buying cocaine from an undercover officer.  

“First rule of Fight Club: Don’t buy cocaine from a federal agent,” Radel joked Jan. 29 during an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” a one-liner that drew big laughs from the famously liberal host, filmmaker Adam McKay and the studio audience.  

With the guest spot and the forthcoming book tour, Radel is done keeping his head down in the private sector and wants back into the media circus.  

Radel laughed when Maher called White House hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a “creep.” He giggled uncontrollably when fellow panelist Thom Hartmann, a progressive radio host, opined that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has been debating as if he were “on ‘ludes.”  

When Maher attempted to downplay the importance of the Iowa caucuses — “They’re not even really voting,” the cynical comic noted — Radel piled right on.  

“There’s some sort of joke to be made about going to the most vanilla, white area of the country and having the Republican Party, of all parties, go and have their first primary there,” he said about Iowa’s first-in-the-nation vetting process. One way to make things more relevant, Radel suggested, might be to move the contest to his infinitely more diverse home state.  

When Maher tried to paint him as a hypocrite for supporting the drug testing of food stamp recipients, Radel suddenly got serious.