Petaluma Buzz: Barbara Boxer talks politics, boxer shorts on ‘Go Fact Yourself’

Recent episode of popular podcast featured former Senator as expert in ‘ClusterFact’ round.|

Barbara Boxer a surprise guest on ‘Go Fact Yourself’ podcast: On the Friday, Jan. 7 episode of the always-entertaining trivia quiz/interview podcast “Go Fact Yourself,” contestant Parker Molloy was participating in the ClusterFact round (Cue audience saying “Ooooh.”). Competing against podcaster Kevin Allison (creator of “Risk”), podcaster/blogger Molloy’s chosen topic was “The U.S. Senate from 2000 to 2021.”

“I wish I didn’t know so much about that, but I do,” she joked.

After correctly answering questions about the longest-serving senators and what children’s book Ted Cruz read while trying to delay passage of the Affordable Care Act (answer: “Green Eggs and Ham”), Molloy was faced with her three-part Expert Level question, in which an expert on that topic is brought in to access a player’s answers.

The question, posed by host J. Keith van Straaten, was this: In 2021, Alec Padilla was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to represent California in the U.S. Senate. Before that, California was represented exclusively by women during the entire time period of your topic. For up to three points, who are these three women who represented California in the U.S. Senate over these 20 years?”

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., makes a point during a League of Women Voters' debate between Boxer and her Republican challenger Bill Jones in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2004. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., makes a point during a League of Women Voters' debate between Boxer and her Republican challenger Bill Jones in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Aug. 10, 2004. (AP Photo/Ric Francis)

“You’ve got Kamala Harris, Diane Feinstein and um, Barbara Boxer,” answered Molloy.

After co-host Helen Hong made note of those answers, she introduced the segment’s expert, announcing, “Joining us tonight is the author of several books, who from 1983 to 1993 represented California in the House of Representatives, and from 1993 to 2017 in the United States Senate, it’s Senator Barbara Boxer.”

Senator Boxer — who represented Marin and Sonoma Counties in Congress for five terms from 1983 to 1993 — then participated in a spirited exchange which dropped a number of entertaining factoids. When asked by van Straaten if she recalled the “Boxer” boxer shorts once sold as a campaign fundraiser, she replied, “Not only do I remember them, but I nabbed about four pairs which I still wear.”

Since retiring from her political career in 2016, Boxer has pursued teaching at the USC Center for the Political Future, where one of Boxer’s classes was titled, “All Politics is Personal.”

“That is such a truism,” she said. “A lot of people, they think of it as mystical. Why is one person a Democrat, and the other person a this-or-a-that or a Republican? It has to do with their own personal lens. How do they see the world? What happened to them as kids? What’s their story? I think that is overlooked.”

Asked what has changed the most in politics since she began serving in the 1970’s, the lifelong Democrat talked about the course change of the Republican party.

“You might not believe me, but in those years, Republicans were taking the leadership on the environment,” she said. “It was Richard Nixon who signed all of those landmark environmental laws. George Herbert Walker Bush was on the board of Planned Parenthood. The fact is, now we’re all in our corners, and it’s so difficult to come together. I lament that.“

Boxer even talked about her television cameos on show like “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Gilmore Girls.”

“Larry David is a genius,” she said. “He doesn’t have a script. He calls you together and he just says, ‘Here’s the plot. Now just be yourself.” And he was very pleased with it. My husband was with me, and he was absolutely hysterical. After I did that, fast forward a few months after it was shown, and I get stopped at the Capitol and people went, ‘Are you Senator Boxer? I’m a real fan of yours!’ And I’d say, ‘Great! What legislation did you like?’ and they said, ‘Oh. I saw you on ”Curb!“’

Finally, before affirming that Molly’s answers were correct — “I’m living and breathing proof, she said — Boxer offered some succinct advice for anyone considering running for office.

“You have to lay out very clearly how you are going to reach your objective,” she said. “Then you have to work with everyone else, but let people think it’s all their idea. Get the plan, write it down, and get it done.“

You can listen to the full “Go Fact Yourself” podcast with Barbara Boxer at

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