[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/12/art.stevens.gi.jpg caption ="Former Sen. Ted Stevens died Tuesday in a plane crash.'"]
Washington (CNN) - I was one nervous little cub reporter when I had my first sit-down interview with Sen. Ted Stevens way back in June 1997, shortly after he had taken over as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
The Alaska Republican always seemed so gruff and hot-tempered - especially at an Appropriations Committee hearing weeks earlier where he warned Democrats he was far different than his predecessor as chairman, mild-mannered Sen. Mark Hatfield, R-Oregon.
"Sen. Hatfield had the patience of Job and the disposition of a saint. I don't," Stevens shouted into the microphone, adding: "I'm a mean, miserable SOB."