5 incredible stories from 21-term Rep. Don Young

February 13, 2014

When you sit down for an interview with 21-term Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and you have 30 minutes to discuss politics, you hear a lot of stories.


Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) in 2011. (Dan Joling/AP)

It happened to us this week when we met Young in his office and the 80-year-old congressman told us that he “cannot understand why people retire when they like what they’re doing.”

Here are our five favorite stories from our sit-down with the congressman.

1. That time he kept a list on the wall of his private office bathroom.

What do Reps. Mahon, Whitten, Hamilton and Obey have in common? Their names are all scribbled on the tiled bathroom wall inside Young's congressional office.

21-term Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) has a lot of stories. Here, he walks us into his private bathroom to tell us about the writing on the wall. Story 1 of 5. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

2. That time someone sat in his "reserved" chair.

Unlike senators, members of the lower chamber don't have assigned chairs on the House floor. But Young has sat in the same chair for over 15 years, and doesn't take too kindly to other lawmakers sitting in it — as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.) found out a few years ago.

21-term Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) has a lot of stories. Here, he tells us about the time a congresswoman sat in his "reserved" seat on the House floor. Story 2 of 5. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

3. That time he asked a sitting president to get him a cigar — and then light it for him.

Young's office walls are covered with photos of him smiling next to presidents and powerful lawmakers past and present. In one such photo, however, he's preparing to enjoy a fine, presidential stogie.

21-term Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) has a lot of stories. Here, he tells us about the time he asked a sitting president to light a cigar for him. Story 3 of 5. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

4. That time he got cocky on his first day in office — and was schooled by his assistant.

To fight the perception that he'd "take two years to find the bathroom," Young made a concerted effort on his first day in office to find the nearest lavatory. Only problem: It wasn't the nearest.

21-term Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) has a lot of stories. Here, he tells us about his first days in office — when he couldn't find the bathroom. Story 4 of 5. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

5. That time legislation was hashed out the old fashioned way — you know, over libations.

Young says legislating was a lot different in the mid-1970s.

21-term Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) has a lot of stories. Here, he talks about what legislating was like in the old days. Hint: Drinks were included. Story 5 of 5. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)

Here's more from our interview with Young:

As his fellow tenured colleagues retire, 21-term Alaska Rep. Don Young is here to stay. (Jeff Simon/The Washington Post)
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