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12/02/2010

Is the lame duck driving Congress crazy?

From: Yahoo News

By Rachel Rose Hartman

December 1, 2010

It's always taken a special sort of personality to aspire to a seat in Congress, a place with arcane protocols, high-profile power struggles and no shortage of outsized egos. But even by the usual standards, members of Congress have  been acting rather strange lately.

Judging by the mass layoffs and floor tirades -- see Rep. Steve Buyer, pictured -- and even the unexpected facial hair, it's almost as if the busy pace of legislative jousting in the short lame-duck session is driving everyone a little batty in Washington.

[Photos: Florida lawmaker outraged at House ban on wild hats]

Below, we've rounded up some of the oddest congressional news from the past few days. You be the judge:


• Sen. Michael Bennet talks conspiracy: Microphones on the Senate floor Tuesday picked up the Colorado Democrat between votes suggesting that the lame-duck session is "rigged."

"It's all rigged," Bennet told a colleague. "I mean, the whole conversation's rigged. The fact that we don't get a discussion before the break about what we're going to do in the lame duck -- it's just rigged. This stuff's rigged."

Video clip below from the Daily Caller:



Sen. Tom Coburn stops shaving: The Oklahoma Republican turned heads this week when he showed up to work sporting a goatee.

"Tom Coburn beard alert on MSNBC," network host Chuck Todd tweeted Tuesday. Bloomberg politics reporter Lizzie O'Leary tweeted: "How long before Coburn's beard has its own feed?"

But Roll Call's Heard on the Hill blog had the scoop last week: "If talk show host Conan O'Brien invented the 'strike beard,' then perhaps Sen. Tom Coburn thought up the 'lame-duck goatee,'" wrote Elizabeth Brotherton and Alison McSherry.

Erskine Bowles leans into Tom Coburn
AP/Alex Brandon


• Rep. John Larson fires everyone: It's common for a party heading into the minority to cut back on staff and spending. But the Connecticut Democrat asked Tuesday for resignations from his personal office, as well as from his leadership and district staff. Politico has the full story.

 Rep. Steve King redefines race: The Iowa Republican took to the House floor to decry Congress' decision to pay claims to African-American farmers and American Indians. In the course of his argument, he suggested that the president favors the claim because he is "very, very urban."

Watch the video below via Mediaite:



Rep. Joe Barton has a historical fantasy: As we reported Tuesday, the Texas Republican has become the latest politician to come down with "historical re-enactment syndrome."

Barton created a PowerPoint slide that compared upcoming congressional battles to World War II.

"Speaker Boehner is our Dwight Eisenhower in the battle against the Obama Administration. Majority Leader Cantor is our Omar Bradley. I want to be George Patton -- put anything in my scope and I will shoot it," the slide read.

• Rep. Steve Buyer loses his temper: The outgoing Indiana Republican got spitting mad when he wasn't permitted to speak on the House floor Tuesday. When presiding Speaker Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) refused repeatedly to allow him to address the House, he began lobbing insults. "This is why the American people have thrown you out of power!" Buyer yelled.

And that was just the beginning of a back-and-forth between Richardson and Buyer that did not lack for sarcasm and anger.

Watch the exchange below, courtesy of ABC News:

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