Intern of the week

Alex Ascherson, a 21-year-old intern for Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), knows the meaning of hard work, at least when he’s not napping on one of the office couches [see photograph].

For the past seven weeks, Ascherson has been slaving around Filner’s office, giving tours, writing letters and preparing the occasional legal brief. Last week he was working on a brief concerning Guantanamo Bay detainees.

What sets him apart from most interns on the Hill is his English accent — his parents are Scottish, but he attends school at the University of York, which is four hours north of London.

Last year Ascherson was an exchange student in Columbus, Ohio, at Ohio State University. He says it “seemed like an interesting opportunity to go someplace most people don’t usually go.” Before that, he spent a year in Nepal.

He was there for his “gap” year between high school and university, working for a non-profit, where he taught English and organized women’s groups.

Ascherson has no connection whatsoever with San Diego, where Filner represents. But it hasn’t been a problem. A family friend suggested that he intern for a Capitol Hill lawmaker, so he applied and got the job.

The friend specifically recommended Filner, who is outspoken on civil rights issues having been a Freedom Fighter. “I was a rare exception,” says Ascherson on how he got the internship.

He says hearing former Secretary of State Colin Powell speak was among the highlights of his internship. “It’s kind of nerdy, but it’s really good to see all the congressmen, all the people you read about,” he says.

Asked about President Bush’s close relationship with English Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ascherson said, “I prefer to see some distance. I prefer to see Tony Blair represent the British people.”

And what does he think of Bush? “I don’t know,” he says. “He’s your president, not mine.”