Paul Ryan: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

A New Kind of House Speaker

In addition to showing leadership on issues, Ryan is unleashing a barrage of “firsts” -- from sleeping in his office to growing a beard.

Paul Ryan became the first speaker of the House to sleep in his office, rather than getting an apartment in Washington, D.C. Ryan is far from the only member of Congress to choose this unusual lifestyle, and there are many reasons why around 50 members -- most of them Republicans -- do so.

Sleeping in the office saves a congressman a great deal of money, as rent in D.C. is famously expensive, and congressmen also have their residences in their home states. It may also send the message that a politician is less tied to Washington, and more loyal to their family.

“I just work here. I don’t live here,” Ryan told CNN’s Dana Bash on the show “State of the Union.”

“So I live in Janesville, Wisconsin. I commute back and forth every week,” Ryan explained. “So I get up very early in the morning. I work out. I work til about 11:30 at night. I go to bed and I do the same thing the next day.”

The House speaker added that this living arrangement “actually makes me more efficient,” because “I can actually get more work done by sleeping on a cot in my office.” Even though he became speaker of the House, Ryan said “I’m going to keep doing it.”

In a possible show of humility, Ryan chooses to sleep in his original office in the Longworth House Office Building, rather than in the speaker of the House’s grand office in the Capitol Building. Rather than choosing the grand office -- which he said stinks of smoke from John Boehner’s tenure -- he remains in his old office, in one of three buildings which the New York Times called “veritable homeless shelters for members of the House.”

While the House office buildings do enjoy certain creature comforts -- laundry machines and showers in the gym, nightly custodial services, and ample heat, electricity, Internet, and cable TV -- those hardly make the decision to sleep in one’s office less noble. This is especially true in Ryan’s case, as he sleeps in his smaller and less grand office.

A Bearded Speaker?

Ryan is the first House speaker in nearly 100 years to grow a beard. Returning from his Thanksgiving break with what the New York Times’ Alan Rappeport called “serious stubble,” Ryan wondered on social media whether he was the first bearded speaker in a century.

He was close, only missing the mark by 10 years. The House historian explained that the last speaker with a beard was -- ironically a man with the last name “Gillett” -- Frederick H. Gillett, who presided over the House of Representatives until 1925.

Mr. Ryan’s spokeswoman said only one person has the final vote on whether or not the speaker will keep his facial hair. “He’ll keep it as long as Janna lets him,” the spokeswoman said, referring to Ryan’s wife.

Photo courtesy AP Images / J. Scott Applewhite Photo courtesy AP Images / J. Scott Applewhite

Long before this possibly premature beard, Ryan’s manliness had become legendary -- sparking the popular "Hey Girl, It’s Paul Ryan!" Tumblr page.

From bold leadership on ideas to sprouting some facial hair, Ryan is taking the House speakership forward. He may need a new president to bring the bold new GOP policies to pass, but that won’t stop him from doing all he can at the moment.