What explains Paul Ryan’s Rage?

August 15, 2012, 9:55 PM UTC

Rage Against the Machine wants to arm the homeless, Paul Ryan wants to cut their funding.

FORTUNE – We all have them, tunes on our iPods that we refuse to share. Songs that, if anyone ever knew, we’d crawl under a table in shame, because – well – it just goes against who we are, or at least the image we give off to everyone else.

But not Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. The staunchly conservative congressman isn’t ashamed to advertise his guilty pleasure: Rage Against the Machine, the rap metal band from Los Angeles that supported the Occupy Wall Street movement.

It’s hard to picture the seven-term Congressman from Wisconsin riding in a campaign bus listening to the band’s 1996 hit, Bulls on Parade. The song speaks against the U.S. military, arguing that the arms industry encourages war to get military contracts:

Weapons not food, not homes, not shoes

Not need, just feed the war cannibal animal

I walk the corner to the rubble that used to be a library 

Line up to the mind cemetery, now 

What we don’t know keeps the contracts alive and movin’

This certainly goes against Ryan’s image. He wants to protect U.S. defense spending — in a 2012 budget, he sought to restore some of the initial $487 billion reduction in Pentagon spending recommended by the Obama administration over the next decade. Ryan is a Tea Partier who endorses a tax policy that would likely hurt the poorest Americans; Rage Against the Machine visited the Occupy Wall Street movement in lower Manhattan to offer their support.

Perhaps Ryan’s musical taste reflects more his age than his politics. The 42-year-old politico is the first Generation X-er to be tapped in a presidential campaign.

Or maybe months from now, he’ll back peddle his love for 90s grunge, just as he did with his love for Russian novelist Ayn Rand, a staunch atheist. Ryan, a devoted Catholic, said in 2005 that “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.” Earlier this year, he tempered his enthusiasm for the free market philosopher.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Ryan “strolls the halls of Capitol Hill with the anarchist band Rage Against the Machine pounding through his earbuds.” It’s unlikely he sings their lyrics out loud:

So called facts are fraud

They want us to allege and pledge

And bow down to their God

Lost the culture, the culture lost

Spun our minds and through time

Ignorance has taken over

Yo, we gotta take the power back!