In one of America’s odder new political customs, yet another celebrity has blazed a path to a foreign dictator. Building on Denis Rodman’s bizarre February visit to North Korea, where the body-scarred basketball player became the first American to call Kim Jong Un “my friend,” Steven Seagal recently shepherded a congressional delegation, led by Dana Rohrbacher (R, CA), to Russia, where the action film star introduced the group to his friends, Vladimir Putin and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov The delegation, which was seeking clues to the Boston Marathon bombing, unearthed no new Obama scandal. Unfortunately, they were unable to carry their investigation into Chechnya, where Kadyrov rules with an iron (many say bloody) fist. Congressional rules prohibited them from flying on Seagal’s plane. (I am not making this up.)
At first blush, Rohrbacher and Seagal seem strange bedfellows. The actor is an environmentalist and animal-rights activist, whereas Rohrbacher received a 5% approval rating from the League of Conservation Voters. But Rohrbacher’s rationalization for Putin’s and Kadyrov’s crackdowns on dissent could have come straight from the mouth of a Seagal character: “yeah, guess what, there are people who overstep the bounds of legality.”
Rohrbacher was especially complimentary about the actor as tour guide compared to the American Embassy, which had arranged all his previous junkets. "You know what we got?” he asked. “We got the State Department controlling all the information that we heard. You think that's good for democracy? No way!"
The delegation also included an unusually quiet Michele Bachmann.