Dennis Hastert

honoring our rubber-stamp congress, whose members have found plenty of time to do squat

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This bit of street theater was intended to promote the trillion-dollar Bush tax cut as a boon for the working class. A memo from the National Association of Manufacturers gave denizens of Gucci Gulch their lunch-pail instructions: “The theme involves working Americans. Visually, this will involve a sea of hard hats, which our construction and contractor and building groups are working very hard to provide.” In addition, “the Speaker’s office was very clear in saying that they do not need people in suits. If people want to participate — AND WE DO NEED BODIES — they must be DRESSED DOWN, appear to be REAL WORKER types, etc.”

The Rank Hypocrisy Award

Orrin Hatch complained that the Democrats had confirmed only 28 right-wing judges in the first half of 2002. “Contrary to the widely held belief, the Republicans did not play such games when Bill Clinton was president,” Hatch declared without being struck by lightning. When Hatch ran the Judiciary Committee in 1996, he confirmed 17 of Clinton’s moderate appointments the whole year.

Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) called himself the “New Jersey Wen Ho Lee” after federal prosecutors dropped charges accusing him of receiving illegal funds from political patron David Chang — who had reportedly given the Senator an $8,100 Rolex watch, 10 Italian suits, and a large-screen TV. Earlier, Torricelli had demagogued the Wen Ho Lee case, even causing Janet Reno to break down at one hearing when he demanded that Clinton fire her. Torricelli later insisted that he didn’t understand how Chang got into a meeting he was having with Korea’s finance minister. “I had no idea what this man was doing in the room,” Torricelli explained through his teeth. “He showed up.”

Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who took money from Enron and then went on to denounce the company, complained when the cable news stations began flashing on-screen the amounts that politicians received from the bankrupt company. “People hate hypocrites,” Tauzin observed.

Rep. Tom Delay (R-Texas) criticized Senator John Kerry for first serving (by all accounts heroically) in Vietnam before following his conscience to oppose the war. “If we had had the leadership of a George W. Bush back in the Vietnam War days,” DeLay said of the president, who avoided the draft, “we probably would not have lost that war.”

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