CEDAR RAPIDS | It’s not the sort of attention a U.S. Senate candidate hopes for, but 1st District Rep. Bruce Braley can take some comfort in the fact late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel didn’t name names when he used the Waterloo Democrat as the basis of a comedy sketch.

Braley’s lament about the lack of towel service at the U.S. House gym was the basis for the sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live, which airs on ABC.

“There’s hardly anybody working down there,” Braley said last week on the "Bill Press Show." “There’s no towel service. No, and so we’re doing our own laundry down there. And we pay a fee to belong to the House gym.”

His Republican rivals for the seat held by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin quickly pounced, offering to send him towels or take their own with them if they should be elected.

“This is exactly what is wrong with Washington,” GOP hopeful Matt Whitaker told Politico. “We need someone who can help clean up the rampant dysfunction and corruption in Washington, D.C. … and I’ll bring my own towels.”

Kimmel jumped on the comment, too, with a skit featuring actors -- some nude -- as congressmen complaining about the lack of towels in the House gym.

“I went to work wet,” one says.

Braley was good-natured about the Kimmel sketch Wednesday but said the comedian and his GOP opponents missed his point.

“He is not calling me to ask for any further material,” Braley said.

He went on to say that he regretted that his comment -- and the skit -- may have detracted from his point that the members-only gym is “an important place because it’s a place where members come together, get to know one another and learn about each other’s families and actually build relationships of trust that can lead to positive things in Congress.

“That’s something we need more of, not less of,” he said.

Kimmel’s sketch also was a reminder that when Congress isn’t getting its job done, it gives pundits and comedians plenty to talk about, Braley said.

“One of the things you learn is that when Congress is not working the way it’s supposed to, it gives people a lot of opportunity to talk about things that aren’t going to get the government back together and bring us together and solve the problems we face as a country,” he said.

Statehouse reporter for The Courier

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