Editor’s note: Welcome back to Capitol Retort, our weekly review of issues in state and national news, with input from a rotating cast of local characters.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity, but not unity. Any instances of agreement are accidental. Our respondents are comfortable sounding-off in any way, and about anything, and this is no place for them to stop.
Question 1: Paul Ryan has said he would serve as U.S. House speaker under certain conditions. What conditions would Congress have to meet for you to be speaker?
Jeff Kolb, Republican activist, Crystal City Council member: I cannot conceive of any conditions under which I would take the job of speaker of the House, nor would it be offered to me.
Javier Morillo, president, SEIU Local 26: (Laughs) Can you just type “uncontrollable laughter”? No amount of money.
Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing: I would want to see Congress be a little more functional than it is now. I think that right now so many Americans, even those holding office, don’t have the desire to run for Congress because of how dysfunctional it’s become.
Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis: I kind of like that he’s charging a hard bargain — not willing to baby-sit babies.
Question 2: Walter Mondale was honored in Washington recently and visited with Vice President Biden. The next day Biden announced he would not run for president. Any guess as to advice Mondale might have given Biden, or what advice would you have offered?
Kolb: I hope it wasn’t Mondale that talked Joe out of running. If it is, then he’s to blame for the lack of entertainment in the presidential election. I’d be upset with Mr. Mondale.
Morillo: I think Mondale could have advice that you can be a historically great vice president depending on the work that you do after. And you can keep your legacy. And that’s a good thing.
Melin: I really admire Joe Biden. He’s probably one of my favorite politicians or elected officials. I think he’s extremely bright and compassionate and passionate about issues. I do ultimately think that he made the right decision not getting in the race at this point.
Dibble: I highly doubt at least on this particular trip Walter Mondale discussed the subject with Joe Biden. At all. However the theoretical advice would probably have been similar to what Hubert Humphrey gave Mondale: You should do it, you would be good at it, you will get more done in one day than you can get done in your current role and you will grow as a person.
Question 3: Hillary Clinton was on Capitol Hill before the Benghazi committee. What would you like to see Congress investigate?
Kolb: If I could have Congress investigate anything, I’d like to blow the lid off this whole aliens thing. That’s where I would go. I’d like to figure out what’s the deal with Area 51.
Morillo: I’d love them to investigate why Republicans decided to give Hillary Clinton an 11-hour campaign commercial.
Melin: I’d rather have Congress hold hearings on issues of importance to the American people that are not just partisan.
Dibble: I’d like them to investigate why has our economic system become so hardwired to advantage people who already have so much.
Question 4: Zooey Deschanel gave her newborn daughter the middle name “Otter.” What Minnesota animal do you think would make a good middle name?
Kolb: After an incident where I named our cat and it was unauthorized, I’m not allowed to give things names anymore. I named our cat Sprinkles without my wife’s authorization and that’s what ended up on our paperwork. So when we had our son, I was expressly told I was not allowed to act alone at any point in the naming process.
Melin: Moose? I feel that should be my toddler’s middle name.
Dibble: Does it have to be an animal? Lady Slipper. If it’s a girl, of course. Well, I’m not a gender conformist — a feminine-sounding name. Or else Jackpine.