Buzzfeed News (yep, that’s a thing now!) has a long-form piece on Steven Seagal’s relationship with Vladimir Putin up this week. It’s a great read if you’re new to Seagal/Putin, though mostly an anthology of previously-reported Seagal stories familiar to Seagal-obsessives like us. Nonetheless, there are some important new tidbits For instance, about the time insane congressman Dana Rohrabacher tapped Seagal to accompany a congressional delegation to Russia. You may have already seen that video of Seagal dancing, or heard the story about Rohrabacher and rep Steve King complaining that they didn’t get to meet with a Chechen strongman, but Buzzfeed‘s piece adds a wrinkle about about Steven Seagal’s sunglass valet:
Convinced that the State Department wouldn’t give him the full picture, Rohrabacher enlisted Seagal as a fixer. On the second day of the trip, Seagal appeared in the lobby of the hotel where the members of Congress were staying, surrounded by his entourage — including one man whose job seemed to carry a bag of sunglasses for him, according to a source with direct knowledge of what happened on the trip. Another member of the entourage had in his room large quantities of moonshine, jars of which Seagal would give out to people he was meeting, per the source.
So you’re saying the blues singing, saddle collecting, supposed reincarnation of a Buddhist monk has a diverse entourage? …Yeah, I can believe that. My only question is, who takes care of his bulletproof kimono? I’d like to think Steven Seagal employs a Sunglass Valet, a Moonshine Maestro, a Kimono Czar, a Bauble Baron, a Scarf Serf, an Underpants Gnome…
Anyway, just how crazy is Dana Rohrabacher and how scary is it that he’s in a position to make policy decisions? Well, if the fact that he brought Steven Seagal along to do official government business wasn’t illustration enough…
Seagal has a close relationship with Rohrabacher and was also in close communication with Paul Berkowitz, Rohrabacher’s top aide at the time. Berkowitz and Seagal were texting throughout the trip, according to the source with direct knowledge of the proceedings. “You can trust Steven,” Berkowitz repeatedly assured the delegation. “He’s a tulku,” he said, using a Tibetan Buddhist term for a reincarnated lama. (Seagal was declared to be the reincarnation of Chungdrag Dorje, a 17th-century monk and “treasure finder,” in 1997 by Penor Rinpoche, a high-level Buddhist teacher in southern India.)
And lest you think he was just joking, Berkowitz reiterated the tulku thing in a follow-up interview with Buzzfeed.
“There’s all sorts of tulkus,” Berkowitz, who is also a Buddhist, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. “Steven actually studied a lot of Tibetan Buddhism. He’s a tulku.”
As for Rohrabacher himself?
Rohrabacher was clearly enjoying himself. He and [Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry] Rogozin would later spend much of a meeting discussing their shared passion for space lasers capable of zapping doomsday asteroids before they destroy Earth.
So, in conclusion, we have elected officials who are basically hoarders and doomsday preppers. That’s reassuring. Incidentally, Rohrabacher also thinks global warming is a fraud “to create global government.”
Okay, too much depressing stuff, back to Seagal.
For months after the congressional trip, Seagal’s diplomatic talents remained a priority for Russia. Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to Washington, made several visits to the State Department to pester officials about Seagal’s appointment [as “an honorary consul of Russia in California and Arizona”]. “He kept asking, ‘Can you please tell us the status of our request about Mr. Seagal?’ And every time they’d just tell him, ‘We’re still thinking about it,’” said a source familiar with the conversations. After several failed attempts, Kislyak eventually dropped the matter. The State Department assumed the affair was closed until calls started coming in from a raspy-voiced man who said that he was reaching out on Seagal’s behalf. Eventually, an official agreed to meet the elderly, wheelchair-bound man, who flew in from Oklahoma. The official sat patiently, taking notes and only occasionally interjecting as the man, who said he was a retired foreign service officer who had been stationed in Moscow in the 1980s, made a 40-minute pitch about Seagal’s patriotism. Many other great Americans had connections to Putin, the man said. Why not honor the president’s request and make their relationship official? “It was a little sad, but he was trying,” the U.S. official told BuzzFeed News.
Remember in The Cable Guy when Matthew Broderick’s character comes home to find a party that’s been thrown by Jim Carrey’s, where the crowd sort of looks like the people you’d find at an off-hours karaoke joint in Barstow? That’s how I imagine Steven Seagal’s entourage.