What’s up with erstwhile Republican congressional powerhouse Tom DeLay deciding to hoof it on “Dancing With the Stars” afore a national audience? Some of his GOP buds are perplexed by this unorthodox career maneuver, but as DeLay himself points out, politicians tend to love the spotlight. –KA


DeLay’s motives seem less obvious. Since leaving Congress in June 2006, he’s been running a political consultancy. Did someone counsel him that the path to elder statesmanship is best taken at a waltz? DeLay says he simply discussed the plan with his wife and daughter, both fans of the show, who urged him to go for it. “They said, ‘Sure, why not? Let’s do it.'” His only wider aim in participating, he insists, is to win. “I’m surprised people consider it unusual that a former politician would be on a dancing show,” he says. “Politics is also show biz.”

Nevertheless, people–even some quite close to DeLay–are surprised. “Got a nonspecific hint that he would be doing something high-profile,” says Richard Cullen, one of his legal advisers, when asked if he knew of DeLay’s plans. “But I would never have guessed this.” Republican strategist and former DeLay spokesman John Feehery was also shocked–but more that his ex-boss had been asked than that he accepted. “He likes to be in the middle of the action,” Feehery says. “Politicians have this internal thing where they like to be the center of attention.” DeLay doesn’t deny that. “I’ve always enjoyed being in the limelight. At least that’s what my wife says,” he says with a chuckle.

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