Arts Desk

Congress’ Next Cultural Vanity Projects

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., told The Washington Post this week that he has a dream: that the National Gallery of Art will take over the Art Deco–laden Apex Building at 6th Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue. So what if the Federal Trade Commission has used it for offices since 1938?

But unlike most Republicans, who might want to boot the FTC for ideological reasons, Mica has more personal motivations—he’s an art collector who keeps works by Joan Miró and Alexander Calder in his Capitol Hill office.

What other cultural vanity projects could Congress bring to the District? Here are a few whose proposal wouldn’t surprise us at all:

Project: Statue of P90X workout guru/infomercial king Tony Horton
Location: On the steps of the National Portrait Gallery, posing Rocky-style
Sponsors: The “muscle confusion”–based workout regimen is inexplicably popular among House Republicans. Look for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., to lead the charge, supported by Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Project: Drill for oil—in D.C.!
Location: Tidal Basin
Sponsor: Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who never met an offshore oil rig she didn’t like enough to claim its economic benefits outweigh pesky environmental concerns. Co-sponsors: Just about everyone in Congress.

Project: House speaker’s private golf course
Location: Hains Point
Sponsor: House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may not be the most powerful golfer in national politics (that would be President Barack Obama), but only Boehner would have the power to pass a bill turning the East Potomac Golf Course into an extension of the Capitol’s Speaker’s Balcony—giving him a private golfing range barely a mile from his office. Something’s got to replace “The Awakening,” after all.

Project: New wing of the Library of Congress, dedicated to barbershop-quartet songs
Location: Replaces the Folger Shakespeare Library at 2nd and East Capitol streets SE
Sponsor: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the remaining member of the “Singing Senators,” which also included former Sen. Jim Jeffords, R-turned-I-Vt., former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and former Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose biggest hit was a solo effort, “Let the Eagle Soar.”

Illustrations by Brooke Hatfield

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