I can't promise success, but I can promise a fight!

- Slade Gorton

It would be a snap to fill an appendix with all the things they've called Gorton since 1958 when he was elected to the first of five terms in the state Legislature. Besides “Slippery Slade,” there's: Slade the Blade. Skeletor. Cyanide Slade. The new General Custer. The Darth Vader of Northwest Politics. Living proof that not all cold fish comes in a can. Just about the coldest, craftiest guy you would ever want to send 3,000 miles away to represent you in Congress. An evil genius giving off unmistakable signals of his inner corruptibleness. As independent as a hog on ice. A kind of David Bowie of American politics, an agile chameleon who goes out of fashion only long enough to re-emerge with a new face. Brilliant but enigmatic. Fiercely partisan. The prickly, patrician scion to the Gorton's of Gloucester fish fortune. Pluperfect WASP.

Those are all quotes. Gorton's good friend from their days in the U.S. Senate, the effervescent Rudy Boschwitz of Minnesota, doesn't recognize that man. To him, Gorton is a "mensch," kind, decent, admirable; one of the highest honors Yiddish can bestow. Jamie Gorelick, a Clinton Democrat who served with Gorton on the 9/11 Commission, found in him both a gallant big brother and "a wise bipartisan consensus-builder." Former staffers like Kellie Carlson are intensely loyal, proud of having worked for him. From the summer intern to the chief of staff, he was courteous and thoughtful. Never "Senator," always "Slade." The son of a feisty, college-educated mother, Gorton began opening doors for female lawyers during his three terms as Washington's attorney general. Women who worked on his U.S. Senate staff have formed the Gorton Legacy Group to advance the careers of women in law and politics. It would be inaccurate, however, to call him a feminist. He's gender and color blind. What matters is whether you're smart and willing to work hard.