Playing in the Band

Posted July 27, 2005 at 6:47pm

So maybe they can’t legislate together, but five bipartisan lawmakers sure can rock and roll. They’re going to prove it tonight when their newly formed eclectic band performs for the first time ever at the hip waterfront dive, Cantina Marina.

[IMGCAP(1)] The lead singer of the band is a Democrat, albeit a conservative one: Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota. The rest of the members of Collin Peterson and the Second Amendments, all of them House Members, are Republicans: Jon Porter of Nevada on keyboards; Floridian Dave Weldon on bass; Kenny Hulshof of Missouri on drums and backup vocals; and Michigander Thaddeus McCotter on lead guitar.

The Second Amendments are a reincarnation of a band Peterson put together in 1995 called The Amendments. The short-lived band broke up after gigs turned politically partisan. GOP members of The Amendments, which included former Reps. Joe Scarborough (Fla.), Martin Hoke (Ohio) and Scott Klug (Wis.), decided to play at a big Republican National Committee fundraiser and then at the Republican National Convention in San Diego. Peterson couldn’t play those gigs with them and, he said, “the band fell apart.” (Apparently it was just like an episode of VH1’s “Behind the Music.”)

This time around, Peterson said, the Second Amendments have a new rule: “We’re not playing for any partisan deals.” They should be on safe political ground at “the Cantina,” as its known, a harbor for bipartisan boozing and dancing.

So far, there have been no political brawls during band practice. They’ve been practicing pretty diligently in Peterson’s bodacious office, anticipating gigs like tonight’s. And Peterson, who has been playing music for nearly as long as he can remember, 30 of them professionally, is geared up for their debut.

Hinging on classic rock ‘n roll and country and Western, the band plans to cover party favorites such as “Twist and Shout,” “Sweet Little Sixteen” by Chuck Berry, Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business,” as well as softer tunes like Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.”

The new keyboardist is psyched. “I just want to make sure everybody has a good time. We’re on a mission!” Porter told HOH.

Groupies, get ready. Next month, the Second Amendments are playing at WE Fest, the huge country and western festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn., slotted between Sawyer Brown and Sara Evans.

Black and White. After rallying the House Democratic faithful Wednesday with an impassioned plea to oppose CAFTA because of child labor concerns, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) had people rolling on the floor laughing.

“The White House keeps issuing white paper after white paper after white paper on CAFTA,” Democratic sources overheard Hastings saying to another Member. “When are they gonna start using some black paper?”

Chief Impersonator. Only a month before his nomination to take a seat at the table with his former boss, Judge John Roberts was more than happy to offer up his impersonation of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. But now, Roberts’ best friends said the Supreme Court nominee has lost his edge.

During the weekend of June 11-12, at an annual gathering of former Rehnquist clerks, Roberts delighted in taking part in a skit that involved five different impersonations of the chief.

How good an impersonation does Roberts do?

“Not as good as he thinks he does,” said the dead-pan serious Dean Colson, a Miami lawyer who clerked for Rehnquist with Roberts in 1980.

“He was off his game,” said Ron Knauss, a Los Angeles lawyer who also clerked for the chief that year.

While Colson and Knauss wouldn’t elaborate, The Washington Post reported last month that Roberts was in charge of making believe he was Justice Rehnquist of 1980, part of a spoof of the game show “To Tell the Truth.” Rehnquist watched the sketches, which apparently included a ’70s version of the justice in which one of his former clerks pasted on sideburns.

Impersonations aren’t the only thing that Roberts has lost a step on in recent years. Part of the reunion weekend was spent on the golf course. Colson, Knauss and Roberts played the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va., and while Roberts is generally considered a solid player — his buddies said he shoots regularly in the 80s — his game has fallen apart of late.

“He said it was the first time he played in a year,” Colson, a Democrat, recalled.

Knauss, a Republican, said the addition of small children into the Roberts family, his adopted daughter and son, had made golf a bit of a stretch for the nominee.

Colson and Knauss were in town Wednesday as part of a personal charm offensive on Roberts behalf, led by Progress for America, the conservative group taking the lead in defending the nomination.

Both men expressed no doubt that, once on the court, Roberts would not be in awe of his former boss and would be able to exert his own independence from Rehnquist.

“No problem,” Colson said.

Sure, as long as he stops doing his lame impersonations of the chief!

Paul Kane contributed to this report.

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