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.
Now comes Mr. Issa, 57, who was charged with two long-ago auto thefts before eventually making a fortune selling car alarms; his signature product, the Viper, features his own deep voice ordering would-be burglars to “please step away from the car.” Mr. Issa’s voice has become inescapable, and not just among car thieves. He has been shouting forth on matters high-profile (the administration’s response to the BP oil spill) and obscure (a possible conflict involving a member of the National Labor Relations Board).
Like Mr. Waxman and Mr. Burton before him, Mr. Issa (pronounced EYE-suh) is his party’s ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a perch that can become particularly visible for a member of the opposition party. He is, depending on the point of view, an invaluable gadfly or an insufferable grandstander — terms not always mutually exclusive on Capitol Hill.
“Getting oxygen is hard when you’re in the minority,” said former Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia. “You have to create conflict. The press likes that.”
The press loves Darrell Issa. The feeling is mutual — and co-dependent. He is a tireless publicity-seeker with a game-show-host smile and a Bluetooth affixed to his ear. His jet-black Congressional hair is brilliantly in place and perfectly stagnant. “Glue,” Mr. Issa said, is his secret. “That and a lot of spray.”
Adorable! So down-to-earth and self-effacing. His colorful past just makes all the more appealing. In fact, he's just a lovable guy all around.