Every Congress seems to produce a designated pest, adept at drawing attention to nuisance issues (and his nuisance self) while making trouble for the other party when it controls the White House. Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, played that role during the Bush administration, while Representative Dan Burton, Republican of Indiana, did it before him in the Clinton years.
That’s how Mark Leibovich launches into the meat of his New York Times profile of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who’s filling the role of designated congressional annoyance for the current administration. Leibovich hits several of the high notes that make Issa a particularly interesting character: his troubled past, his car alarm fortune (“step away from the car” is a recording of his voice). He even digs up a new anecdote about Rahm Emanuel flipping Issa the bird in the House gym (a story Emanuel denies). But if you’re looking for more Issa trivia, check out my September 2009 profile of the congressman. Did you know that members of the Jewish Defense League were accused of plotting to pipe-bomb Issa’s district office in 2001? Or that Issa nearly ran for California governor himself after backing the recall campaign against Gray Davis? Now you do. Read up, and get ready for an interesting few years should the Republicans regain Congress (and hand Issa subpoena power).