Paul D. Shinkman, a WTOP reporter, has been doing a series of stories on mustaches — and attempting to grow one of his own — as part of a fundraising effort for “Movember,” a charity event held each November to raise money and awareness for men’s health issues.
Shinkman’s latest piece brought him to Capitol Hill, where he conducted a ’stache-centric sit-down with Bartlett, who has represented a Maryland district for more than 20 years and sported whiskers for even longer.
“God put [mustaches] there. Why should we interfere with His intended purpose?” Bartlett told Shinkman.
The longtime lawmaker said he first grew his mustache as a form of protest in the 1950s, when whiskers were frowned upon in some circles.
“For someone who was kind of a nonconformist, it was kind of a symbol of rebellion,” Bartlett said. “I thought these discriminatory things were silly, so I thought, ‘Grow a mustache’ and show I can be a respected member of the community and still be a deviant.”
Shinkman also reached across the aisle, and the Potomac River, to chat with Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.), who has boasted a mustache since the 1970s.
“It’s become a trademark,” Connolly told Shinkman. “I’ve been in local office now for 17 years. People recognize it.”
If you want to applaud Shinkman for his journalistic sleuthing, or just help him raise funds to fight pancreatic cancer, donate here.