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Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Chief Compromiser

While many argue that politics in Washington, D.C., has never been uglier, you'd never know it by talking to Senator Daniel K. Inouye, the most senior member of the U.S. Senate. His secret? A decades-long commitment to common courtesy. "I've always said it takes two to tango," says the 87-year-old Democrat, who has represented Hawaii since 1959. "Somebody can be a little nasty, but if you respond in a positive way, [they usually] straighten up." Best known for such high-profile assignments as the Watergate Committee in the 1970s and chairing the Iran-Contra Committee in the 1980s, Inouye is just as proud of his recent accomplishments: hashing out behind-the-scenes budget agreements, especially those on military spending, as chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. "Anyone who is willing to stand in harm's way on my behalf, I'm with 'em," he says.