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From the Drive-Thru to Congress: The Fast-Food Caucus Dishes

Apart from her immediate family — and, perhaps, the hog castrators of the world — no one appears to be prouder of Iowa Republican Joni Ernst than those she used to break bake bread with.  

Hence the reason Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, rushed to congratulate the one-time breakfast-rush worker and senator-elect in a splashy ad in the Des Moines Register.  

(Courtesy HOH tipster)
(Courtesy HOH tipster)

“Thanks, Joni, for reminding us that, in this great country of ours, your job and your life are what you make of them,” the head of the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. chains praised in the ad, after Ernst touted her biscuit-making past in her election night victory speech .  

Her ascension to Capitol Hill follows a career trajectory familiar to the growing number of lawmakers who dedicated parts of their youth to slinging burgers and fries at various grab-and-go establishments.  

Other members of what we’ve dubbed the Fast-Food Caucus include:  

Rep. Paul D. Ryan An aide to the 2012 GOP vice presidential pick confirmed that the Wisconsin Republican briefly worked at McDonald’s during the summer between his sophomore and junior years of high school.  

According to his office, the former grill cook — “The manager didn’t think I had the social skills to work the counter,” Ryan told the New Yorker — gleaned plenty from the experience.  

“Congressman Ryan learned the value of hard work — a lesson that continues to help him in Congress today,” Team Ryan said. And before being elected to the House, Ryan further honed his hospitality skills working at Tortilla Coast.  House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers The Washington Republican gave her former boss a shout out earlier this year, just before unloading on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

“A nation where a girl who worked at the McDonald’s Drive-Thru to help pay for college can be with you from the United States Capitol,” McMorris Rodgers said as she ratcheted up her attack on 44.  

In addition to providing fodder for partisan speeches, McMorris Rodgers apparently divined how to deal with people during her time beneath the Golden Arches.  

“I learned good customer service: Keep that smile on your face,” she shared in Glamour’s September issue .  

Rep. Rick Crawford An aide said the Arkansas Republican spent a year as a McDonald’s crew member (“He performed multiple jobs within the company, including cooking, cleaning, etc.”) prior to enlisting in the Army.  

“The Congressman said his most important lesson learned at McDonald’s included good teamwork and the importance of a strong work ethic,” Team Crawford told HOH.  

Rep. Rodney Davis Fast food runs in the blood of this Illinois Republican.

His father was a franchisee, and Davis donned the uniform while in high school to help out around their store.  

A McDonald’s spokeswoman provided a partial list of other pols who’ve made Team Ronald proud, but estimated that cataloging every solon who ever worked at Mickey D’s would prove nearly impossible.  

Puzder concurred — mostly because he’s sure virtually everyone has.  

“We have no way of knowing if current legislators were former employees. However, I’ll bet that if someone asked, there would be are a number of legislators that worked at a Carl’s Jr., a Hardee’s, Wendy’s, McD[onalds] or B[urger] K[ing] at some point in their careers,” he said. “I started scooping ice cream at [Baskin-Robbins] myself.”  

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