WASHINGTON • At a time when fierce partisanship reigns in Congress, Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond admonished colleagues to work together to get things done.
In his farewell address after 24 years in the Senate, Bond, R-Mo., observed that his main achievements over the years have come about largely when he teamed up with Democrats.
As examples he mentioned his work on public housing issues, on behalf of the National Guard and a compromise he helped engineer with Democrats 20 years ago that began to curb the damage from acid rain pollution.
"As I look back at the successes I have achieved during my time here, they have come because people of good will were willing to work across the aisle," he said.
"So now, if my colleagues will permit a little parting advice form an old bull: Work together, play nice," he said.
"In a world today where enemies are real -- the kind who seek to destroy others because of their religion -- it is important to remember there is a lot of real estate between a political opponent and a true enemy," he added.
Bond, 71, who previously served two terms as Missouri governor, announced nearly two years ago that he would retire from Congress. He will be replaced in January by Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield, who won an election Nov. 2.
In a speech spiced with his trademark wry humor, Bond acknowledged a scuffle years ago with former New York Sen. Daniel Moynihan that is said to have broken out while discussing highway funds.
"He used to tease me about setting up boxing matches so that we could raise money for charity," Bond said.
Moynihan, who stood six-feet-five, died in 2003.
"But when I looked at his height and his reach, I didn't take him up on that," Bond said.
At another point, Bond joked: "I've been in the majority, I've been in the minority. I've been fat and I've been thin. And I'll tell you that being thin and in the majority is a whole lot better."
Bond said one of the high points of his career was his work on intelligence matters, including his leadership in rewrites of the controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act prescribing parameters on practices such as wiretapping.
He warned about the dangers of the Wikileaks disclosures of military and diplomatic correspondence and said he worried about ongoing intrusions by hackers, some deployed by foreign governments, into U.S. military computer networks.
Bond's version of cybersecurity legislation was among the bills bottled up in Senate gridlock this year.
"The battle is underway. We'll need every effort to stay ahead of developing attacks," he said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said of Bond before his speech that "there is no stronger advocate for the men and women of our armed forces."
McConnell joked about a book Bond co-wrote, The Next Front: Southeast Asia and the Road to Global Peace with Islam.
McConnell recalled Bond saying: "It is not difficult to convince a senator to write a book. The hard part is convincing people to read it."
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said on the Senate floor that she disagreed with Bond on various matters but respected him for his intellect, his integrity, his ready smile "and an amazing work ethic."
She observed that Bond could have charted a lucrative career in law after graduating first from Princeton and later from the University of Virginia Law School.
"Christopher Kit Bond could have been wealthy beyond anyone's imagination," she said. But instead he chose "to toil in the fields of public service."
Regarding Bond's personality, she added: "When you think of Kit Bond, you think of him smiling, even if his teeth are gritted and he's telling you something you don't want to hear or you can tell he's angry at you."