The U.S. Capitol has had an odd feel to it all week, which is sort of normal for a lame duck session. One on hand, you have the excitement of newly elected lamwakers, and then you have the funeral like mood for many who just lost their seat.
On Tuesday, I stood down on the second floor of the Senate side of the Capitol, in between where Democrats and Republicans were having their Tuesday lunch meetings, and what I saw made me shake my head.
Walking by me suddenly was Sen. John McCain. All by himself. No aides. No secret service protection. Just him.
A reporter went chasing after him and asked a question that I couldn't hear.
"I don't have any comment," McCain said curtly.
The reporter tried again.
"I DON'T HAVE ANY COMMENT," McCain said with a bit more emphasis, as the reporter pulled up like a horse, while the Arizona Senator darted into a waiting elevator.
"He's baaaaack!" said one of my colleagues with a big grin.
A few minutes later, I heard a familiar voice say, "Senator, Congratulations!"
It was Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) who had lost his re-election bid. Who was he offering his congrats too? I couldn't tell at first. Then I realized who it was.
It was Sununu's opponent, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, now here for her orientation meetings.
Their short conversation (under the watchful eye of the Benjamin Franklin statue) had all the feel of a former boyfriend and girlfriend running into each other at a party for the first time since their breakup.
I walked back from the elevators and the police officer in the hallway blocked my path, which meant only one thing, that Vice President Cheney was around the corner.
10 seconds later, there he was, surrounded by a gaggle of police and security aides, making sure that no pesky reporters were going to get too big for their britches and actually ask him a question in his capacity as President of the Senate.
At least the police officer was cool about it. Some of them run us out of the hallway like we are a bunch of long haired protesters in tie-dyed shirts chanting "Death to Darth Vader."