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Ex-Rep. Tom DeLay brings his two-step to 'Dancing With the Stars'

August 17, 2009 | 10:48 am

The news this morning that former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay will be a contestant on the upcoming season of “Dancing With the Stars” triggered a mixture of chortling and bemusement as it whipped through cyberspace.

“Also: Denny Hastert to be on American Idol. Right, @ryanseacrest?” ABC chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper joked on Twitter

Even Tom Bergeron, host of “Dancing With the Stars,” admitted he was flummoxed when he heard that the one-time Republican king maker nicknamed “The Hammer” would be participating in the dance spectacle. “This is the one when the producers last week were telling me who the lineup was … I went, ‘You’re kidding!’” Bergeron said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” as he announced the cast of the new season.

DeLay, known for his hardball tactics on the Hill, stepped down from his House seat in 2006 after being indicted in Texas for violating campaign finance laws. The case is pending.

Conrad Green, the show’s executive producer, said he considered the fact that DeLay is under indictment before offering him the role but decided it was not enough to keep him off the show. “Frankly, this case seems to have stalled completely,” he said in an interview. “I believe in innocent before proven guilty.”

Perhaps equally as remarkable as DeLay’s selection was the fact that news of it didn’t leak out in the gossip-crazed cities of Washington and Hollywood.

Green said he wanted a politician in the cast to shake up the dynamics as the program goes into its ninth season and approached DeLay several weeks ago. “Every season we try to change the game a little and spread the net a bit wider,” he said. “We wanted someone sort of iconic and who the audience would have strong feelings about. We went to Tom DeLay and he said yes straight away.”

It turns out the longtime Texas pol loves the program. "I really am a big fan of the show," DeLay told USA Today. "I couldn't believe they asked me to do this. It didn't take me five minutes to agree. I've been working out like crazy."

Green said that DeLay likes to go dancing with his wife but is far from a dance pro. “He said he’s got a nifty two-step, that’s about it,” the producer said. “It will all be very new for him .... I think he’s got tremendous [nerve] to take it on.”

No matter his dancing ability, Green said that he’s confident DeLay’s performance will spark passionate involvement by the show’s fans.

“If anyone knows how to mobilize the vote, it’s Tom DeLay,” he said.

— Matea Gold