Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas became an Internet sensation on Thursday when his cellphone went off in the middle of a senate finance committee hearing, filling the somber room with the first few bars of a song from Disney’s “Frozen.”
The 78-year-old Republican had been questioning Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who tried in vain to repress a smile as Roberts muttered, “Oh come on,” and fumbled with his phone. Laughter rippled through the hearing room.
“Just let it go,” Roberts quipped. “Um, sorry about that.”
Twitter exploded. Within minutes Roberts’ Frozen moment had gone viral in the form of videos, animated GIFs and snarky comments.
“Senator Roberts has Frozen fever,” CNN Tweeted.
“This is the ONLY way to make a Senate hearing interesting — and even hysterical,” tweeted TMZ, the gossip blog.
“In my head, Sen. Roberts is a huge Idina Menzel fan,” tweeted Hayes Brown, world news editor for BuzzFeed. “Watched RENT on Broadway. Saw ‘Frozen’ by himself. Three times.”
Even Roberts’ 2014 primary opponent, Milton Wolf, got in on the joke: “I’m actually kind of impressed Pat Roberts has a Frozen ringtone on his phone,” Wolf tweeted. “He seems more like a Sleeping Beauty kinda guy.”
Known for his dry, some might say arid, wit, Roberts has a penchant for cracking jokes to lighten up the mood in otherwise serious hearing rooms and press conferences. He has repeatedly been voted “funniest senator” in Washingtonian magazine’s poll of congressional staffers.
Sarah Little, a spokeswoman for Roberts, said in an email that the senator’s “Frozen” ringtone is for his grandkids. He has five.
“He also has Johnny Cash’s ‘I Walk the Line,’” Little said.