Former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett lives tucked away on an off-the-grid swath of West Virginia woodland that serves as an implicit indictment of the inside-the-Beltway life he and so many others have led — a life reliant on the federal government.
At first glance, Bartlett is following a conventional post-politics path. After the 10-term congressman lost his bid for re-election in 2012, he began consulting for the defense industry, advising firms on how to pitch federal agencies, a part-time job that brings him to Washington occasionally.
Out here, in an area so remote that written directions instruct visitors only to "go to the top of the mountain and turn right," Bartlett, 87, practices a kind of self-reliance that so many fellow Republicans preach but don't practice.
Four thousand feet above sea level in the heart of a misty Appalachia, his compound provides its own food, water and electricity — connected to the rest of the world only by a gravel road. It's the kind of self-sufficient lifestyle he says all Americans have a "patriotic duty" to live.