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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Who the %*@! is Ted Stevens?

That was the title of a Daily Show bit a few weeks back that noted how Alaska's senior senator has been making all sorts of trouble on Capitol Hill, from demanding millions for a bridge to nowhere, to refusing to swear in oil execs at a hearing, to slipping the ANWR drilling into a defense appropriations bill, his latest stunt. On account of Stevens being such a jerk, the NYT has a profile of Stevens that you can even read for free!

Among the fun facts I learned from reading it: Ted Stevens worked in the Interior Department during the Eisenhower administration, arguing for Alaska to be granted its statehood; he has been trying to get ANWR drilling passed for 25 years, including an unfulfilled deal with the late Hery Jackson and Paul Tsongas, and a Clinton veto in 1995; he wears a Hulk tie when he is facing major political battles; and he took a sleeping pill the other night (maybe that explains how an octogenarian can last through these all-night floor debates the senate has).

"I'm never confident of anything - I keep telling you that!" Mr. Stevens, wearing the Hulk tie, declared Tuesday, barking at a mob of reporters after explaining that the sleeping pill he took the night before was just now making him groggy. "I don't go out on a limb and say, 'Yes, I've got votes.' I'll get the votes that I deserve."

Yes, you got the votes you deserved, Senator.

One fact omitted from the Times piece is that Stevens is also the Senate pro tempore (longest-serving member of the majority party), which actually places him third in line of succession to the presidency. This is really a succession line that should be changed, in light of the years Strom Thurmond was third in line. It is even further reminder that impeaching Bush is a bad idea because even if he's removed, we get Cheney, and even if Cheney goes too, we will be at the mercy of Dennis Hastert and then Ted Stevens.

Only in America do we let crackpot senators from states with half a million people mess with the policies of a nation of 300 million.