Patrick Leahy: a caped crusader in the Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON: This Batman mega fan calls himself “a bit of a geek,” but everyone else calls him senator — as in US Senator Patrick Leahy, a veteran Democratic lawmaker.

The 77-year-old Leahy is such a fan of the Caped Crusader that he has made cameo appearances in five Batman movies, including “Batman Forever” (1995), Christopher Nolan´s “Dark Knight” (2008), and most recently in “Batman vs Superman” (2016).

At one early film shoot, he even got to meet the late Batman co-creator Bob Kane — and like any self-respecting fan, he asked him to sign some of the comic books in his collection. In an interview in his office on Capitol Hill, Leahy explained how he discovered Batman´s adventures at the age of five at a library in Montpelier, in his native state of Vermont, which he represents in the Senate.

Batman has been by Leahy´s side during his long political career, which began with his successful 1974 Senate run, in which he won in a three-way race. In 1992, managers at DC Comics, which publish the Batman books, asked Leahy to write the foreword to a special collection of the first four Batman comic books.

The senator displays a quasi-encyclopedic knowledge of his hero´s adventures: he remembered that, contrary to popular belief, Batman used firearms to kill his enemies in the early days.

Leahy´s most notable screen appearance was in “The Dark Knight.” In one memorable scene, he comes face to face with The Joker, as portrayed by the late Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for the role. If Leahy could be anyone in the comic book world, he said that he´d be Batman´s billionaire alter ego. “I´m not in good enough shape to be Batman,” the senator said, smiling. “I´ll just be Bruce Wayne.”

During the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, Leahy remarked that several of the candidates seemed to have escaped from Arkham Asylum, where Batman´s bizarre and crazed enemies are locked up.

If that’s the case, then who would Donald Trump be? “Trump would either be the Scarecrow or the Joker,” he said.