Contrary to conventional wisdom, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is one funny guy. He delivered a successful stand-up set Thursday night at a dinner held in his "honor" by the Federal Communications Bar Association. Martin, whose most emotive feature is his wire-rimmed glasses, played up his reputation as a little dictator.
"One reporter even claimed that not one piece of paper gets out of the commission without my personal approval. That's just not true There have been five pieces of paper, and all the people responsible have been dealt with," he said.
And the staff's number one reason why it's "fun to work at the Martin FCC?: The KGB-like atmosphere grows on you," he said.
Martin noted that some lobbyists have taken to referring to him as "Darth Vader."
"Thank goodness I come home every night to my loving wife and beautiful son, Luke," he said, but not in James Earl Jones wearing an Aqua-Lung.
The chairman didn't take any shots at his commission colleagues, of which there will be two after today--both of them Democrats. Kathleen Abernathy, Martin's fellow Republican, is fulfilling a long-held dream of actually leaving the commission. After the regular monthly meeting scheduled (and rescheduled only once) for today, Abernathy is vamoosing to her daughter's birthday party. She confirmed that she hoped her colleagues would keep their statements brief. She's been trying to leave for the last 18 months.
Until Congress confirms Deborah Tate's nomination to the commission, Martin will be left alone with Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, (whose vocal imitation of Marge Simpson could use a bit more work.)
Said Martin of his minority status: "Michael Powell asked if I was worried about the number of commissioners shrinking down to three. I said, 'Heck no, I'm going to try and get it down to just one.''"
Dick Wiley of Wiley, Rein & Fielding and a former FCC chairman himself offered his sentiments.
"Mr. Chairman... God it hurts to say that."
Wiley referred to the FCC boss as "Chairman Potter," for the Harry Potter spectacles and the fact that he has the Dick Clark gene. Wiley said that when Martin worked at his firm, "he was so young we had to initiate a whole new associate evaluation program--No Child Left Behind."
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