My Weird 1988 Conversation With Then WWE Lobbyist and Now Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum

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In 1988 I wrote an article for The Washington Monthly titled “The (Thwak!) Deregulation of (Thump!) Pro Wrestling.” It would become a chapter of my 2007 book Wrestling Babylon. The piece was republished at this blog at

Rick Santorum — who today announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination — was not named in that story, but at the time he was working as a World Wrestling Entertainment (then World Wrestling Federation) lobbyist out of the Pittsburgh office of Jerry McDevitt’s law firm, then known as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart.

Santorum contacted me by phone shortly after the Washington Monthly article was published in the spring of ’88. He wanted to tell me how funny he thought it was. I have a vivid memory of his reading lines back to me and laughing uproariously. As we conversed, he was listening in the background to live radio reports about the demise of some Pennsylvania politician in an ethics scandal; at one point he shushed me so we could listen together to the latest development in that case.  Santorum couldn’t contain his mirth about that, either. He was obviously high on something – politico adrenaline, I suppose.

Irv Muchnick



* “Senate Candidate Linda McMahon, Former Senator Rick Santorum, and Pro Wrestling Deregulation,” December 9, 2009,

* “No WWE Lobbying? Why, Rick Santorum Handled the Account!”, April 8, 2010,

* “In Pennsylvania, Wrestling Deregulation Is Tied Up With Another Small Piece of Linda McMahon Baggage: Obstruction of Justice,” October 21, 2010,

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