WASHINGTON -- On October 13, 2004, Senator Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) gave his staff the rest of the month off, locked up his office, and hunkered down back in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, so convinced was he that terrorists would strike Washington, D.C. on or before Election Day. So when Mark Dayton tells you that you need to sit back, close your eyes, and find your happy place, you can be sure he knows of what he speaks.
His colleague Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) ought to have listened to him. Dayton used all due decorum last Thursday to remind Boxer to take her meds during the "historic" debate over the certification of President George W. Bush's victory. "It's not often that I find myself rising in disagreement with [Boxer], but I must today emphatically disagree," Dayton said on the Senate floor. "I believe that those involved in this … are seriously misguided and leading us all into a very unfortunate precedent."
This exchange occurred after Boxer was reduced to tears while she announced she would mount the challenge in the Senate after having been approached by a few radical members of the Lower Chamber. It's something she had always wanted to do, she confessed. She wanted to do it in 2000, but Al Gore of all people talked her off the ledge.
Boxer was the lone vote in the United States Senate to hold up the certification of President Bush's re-election. But let's give her a break. She has admitted to being "despondent" over the passing of Rep. Robert Matsui (D-Calif.). (Despondency: depression of spirits from loss of hope ...) (Emphasis added.)
Boxer's rebellion was only the highlight in one of the most bizarre days in congressional history, January 6, 2005.
Over in the House of Representatives, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) dedicated her testimony in opposition to the certification of President Bush's victory to "Mike" Moore. She thanked the obese low-budget filmmaker "for educating the world on the threats to our democracy."
That's because, according to John Conyers (D-Mich.) "the only place in the election of 2000 that you saw the Congressional Black Caucus going over there to the Senate to try to be recognized was in Michael Moore's documentary. No place else." Like the cast from the original Real World, these folks will do anything to extend their fifteen minutes.
If there is any question that lingers as to who runs the laboratory these days, look no further than the white rats themselves.
Over in the Judiciary Committee, where Alberto Gonzales was facing his inquisitors, Senator Ted Kennedy was condemning the act of "water-boarding" in which an interrogation subject is given the sensation that he is drowning as an incentive to cough up information. Unfortunately, Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable to testify on Mr. Gonzales' behalf.
Moments earlier, Senator Pat Leahy openly accused President Bush of violating numerous federal laws in his execution of the war on terror. He even said Attorney General John Ashcroft questioned his patriotism. "The few times Attorney General Ashcroft consented to appear before this Senate oversight committee, he brandished intimidation as a weapon, sometimes going so far as to say that questioning the administration's policy somehow gave aid and comfort to the enemy," said Leahy. Only this has never happened. Sounds like Pat Leahy's guilty conscience speaking, not John Ashcroft.
Still earlier in the hearing Leahy provided a short history of the succession of the Judiciary Committee Chairmanship. "We have many people who have chaired this committee who have stayed on: Senator Hatch, now Senator Specter, Senator Kennedy, Senator Biden. And I think it has helped the committee and improved the committee with that experience." At which point some fool blurted out, "Soon it will be Herb Kohl," the senior Democratic senator from Wisconsin. The official transcript ascribes the outburst to "Unknown." Perhaps it was Herb Kohl himself. Heck, if John Kerry can be the fake president, why can't Herb Kohl be the fake Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee?
By any measure November 2, 2004, was a bad day for the Democrats. But January 6, 2005, was the day the wheels officially came off.