As Boehner Boosts Pot, a Look Back at Night of Bourbon and Banter

The last time I spoke to John Boehner, he was still speaker of the House and was holding what was certainly not his first bourbon of the night. He had slipped in the back of the ballroom and was trying to remain unobserved by the bourbon bigwigs on stage behind Sen. Mitch McConnell. It was February 2015, and the occasion was the bourbon industry's quick-thinking response to President Barack Obama's beer summit. The idea was that if the president could have a beer with a Harvard professor to show no hard feelings, then why not raise a glass of America's only native spirit with the newly elected Senate majority leader?Obama didn't show, but McConnell, whose home state produces 95 percent of the world's bourbon, was happy to. I've followed McConnell's career for 25 years, and one thing he loves is talking about the history of Congress and the history of Kentucky. The event gave him a chance to commemorate the world's first mint julep, which was supposedly invented when Henry Clay had bourbon brought to the capital by the barrel and served at the Willard.Boehner? He had long been an expert at the marriage of politics and drinking.At dinner the year before, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, had told me that his staff was always trying to tell him to get more social, to hang out more often at the watering holes where politicos and lobbyists mingle. To be more like Boehner, in other words.  Continue reading...

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