Wildlife: Debugging the Capitol

Debugging the Capitol

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As sneaky as a PAC, as enduring as Claude Pepper, as annoying as an overzealous lobbyist, the unelected American cockroach is surely the most resilient resident of Capitol Hill. From the Rotunda to the farthest hearing room, congressional buildings are overrun with the scurrying pests, which seem harder to stamp out than waste, fraud and abuse. Efforts to exterminate them have failed miserably, so Congressman Silvio Conte has declared a war against what he says is a "1 trillion-strong" invasion of the hallowed halls. The irrepressible Massachusetts Republican has launched a "Conte Crush-a- Cockroach Campaign," the slogan of which seems to be the rather snappy "Squash One for the Gipper."

Wearing an exterminator's white coveralls and grasping a bug-spray canister and two yellow flyswatters, Conte announced on the steps of the Capitol that Shulton, Inc., a "roach-busting" company from his congressional district, was donating 35,000 roach traps to combat the problem. Conte, a 26-year veteran of the Hill, is something of an expert on all sorts of pests. Says he: "I've seen the beady-eyed Midwestern cockroach, the pesky little New England cockroach as well as the rodeo cockroach, usually found only west of the Mississippi."