Sometimes when he's waiting in an airport on one of his many business trips, former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott has odd encounters with low-talking well-wishers who don't realize he no longer holds public office.
"They'll come over and they whisper, 'Is Washington going to do all this stuff?' " Lott said with a laugh. "A lot of them come up to me and say 'Thank you for your service and thank you for your good work.' They don't know I'm retired."
Lott left the Senate two years ago, after having held its most powerful position, majority leader, and after serving as one of the architects of modern congressional politics. He and former Louisiana Democratic Sen. John Breaux founded "The Breaux-Lott Leadership Group," a lobbying firm. Their list of clients includes corporations such as Chevron, Shell, Northrop Grumman, FedEx, Tyson Foods and General Electric, most of which have ties to Mississippi or Louisiana. Lott is also on the corporate board for EADS North America, which has a helicopter plant in Columbus and he also works with the Mississippi Phosphates board.
Lott gave his papers to his alma mater, the University of Mississippi, and has been working with the staff there to organize them. In a recent interview with the Sun Herald, Lott, who was in his Washington office, said he was also writing an article for Politico about how Congress can get things done in the fall. He had recently spoken to a nuclear energy group at the request of the power company Entergy, one of Breaux-Lott's clients. He sometimes finds himself attending dinners for retiring Capitol Hill staffers, or speaking to groups about military issues or meeting with prospective clients.
"Retirement is not exactly sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair," Lott said.
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