Grassley gets ink over Pink — Floyd that is

Heard on the Hill: Grassley’s Reefer Madness

September 24, 2008
By Emil Heil and Elizabeth Brotherton
Roll Call Staff

Sen. Chuck Grassley, wearer of sweater vests and imbiber of nothing stronger than a nice glass of lemonade, is not, we repeat, not a stoner. But, dude, the Iowa Republican sure sounded like one during a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday in which he went on at length about the artwork on the cover of the trippy Pink Floyd album “Dark Side of the Moon” and then quoted from popular stoner movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

HOH couldn’t quite follow the analogy Grassley was making when he stood before a blown-up poster of the Pink Floyd album cover, which features a large prism against a celestial background with a beam of light passing through it. “Dark Side of the Moon” is considered a classic among the stoner set, particularly when played simultaneously with the movie “The Wizard of Oz,” with the sound turned down. Or so we hear.

The Iowan was trying somehow to say that the prism image was a metaphor for the compromise Republicans and Democrats should make on tax legislation. In the metaphor, the prism represented the compromise, while the refracted beam of light represented policies like tax extenders and alternative minimum tax. We think.

Before waxing eloquent about “strands of light” and the “shards” of a fractured prism, Grassley made it clear that he wasn’t a devotee of Pink Floyd — unlike the legions of college kids whose dorm walls that same image graces — just that he found its artwork useful to illustrate his point. “Now, I’m not of course a big fan of rock music,” Grassley intoned. “I’m not a fan of its lyrics and its culture.”

But, perhaps unwittingly, Grassley was on a roll with the stoner allusions, including a glance at the 2000 movie “Dude, Where’s My Car?” starring Iowa native Ashton Kutcher, which follows the travails of two potheads who can’t remember where, um, they left their car. After finishing with the prism analogy, Grassley went on to talk about energy conservation, noting that many public officials have air-conditioned cars idling while waiting for them at curbs, wasting gas. Grassley proudly noted that he drives his own car, thank you very much, including a Ford Taurus he keeps in Iowa.

“If you do see anyone else driving my car, please call the police, because someone has stolen my car,” he said. “I’d like to refer to Ashton Kutcher here, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, saying ‘dude, where’s my car?’”

A staffer changed the sign behind Grassley to a scene from the flick.

A Grassley spokeswoman was amused at HOH’s detection of smoky references in her boss’ speech and says it was completely unintentional. “No one here is versed in that aspect of pop culture,” she said.

After leaving the floor, Grassley was spotted heading for the Cloakroom, which HOH hears is well-stocked with munchies.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.