Unlike my friends, I was fortunate enough to spend Spring Break working at the Nebraska Legislature rather than doing something dull and frivolous like mountain climbing or skiing or something. Okay, so I was actually rather jealous of those friends who escaped the drudgery of everday life to do something fun. Still, there were enough interesting events to make things seem like they weren't too terribly bad. The following is a list of the week's highlights.
In a committee hearing I was paging (I was responsible for making sure that senators had enough coffee and water to stay happy as well as passing out any handouts testifiers might have brought), the bill in question was one that involved elevator safety inspections. There were quite a few people who showed up to testify, but one man in particular had a great interest in the bill.Testifier
: I've spent a lot of time--a lot of years--working on this stuff. As a matter of fact, my wife is ready to leave me.Senator on the Committee
: (Nervously) We hope that isn't the case.Chairman of the Committee
: (At the end of the testifier's time) Well, thank you for coming today. I suggest that you buy some flowers and go home right now.
Senator Ernie Chambers was railing against Christians (again), mocking their "...pontificating, religiosity, etc..." At this point, another senator smirked and remarked, "'Religiosity'? Now, I know that's
not a word." He then looked at a group of pages that included me and asked, "It's not a word, is it?" I sort of grimaced and nodded to indicate that religiosity
was, in fact a word. He looked away and didn't say anything else.
One of my fellow pages asked, "Did you just tell a senator that he was wrong?" Oh, crap.
Senator Ernie Chambers has a way of using stories and metaphors that are only incidentally (extremely
incidentally) related to the subject at hand to make his point. On this occasion, Chambers was trying to make a point that people were trying to garner his support for a bill by providing a few good things among several bad things, and that, moreover, the "good" things were not actually very good. So, he says, "These people are holding out this bill to me saying, 'Look at the candy in it,' even though the candy is submerged in a foul substance that I refuse to eat. And even the candy is not good candy, but--and you young people won't know what this is--the candy is horehound. When we were kids on Halloween, if we got horehound
, we knew that that house was going to get a trick."
At the end of the day, I went up to Senator Chambers and said, "Senator, I love horehound. I buy it wherever I can find it." He said, "Is that right? I always thought that it was terrible. Well, if I ever find it, I'll buy it and give it to you. Of course, if I do, Health and Human Services will write me up for child abuse."
Thursday was St. Patrick's Day. To celebrate the occassion, men played bagpipes in kilts outside the capitol. Also, some lobbyist or something brought green-dyed corned beef and rye sandwiches which were pretty good. Okay, I'll admit--Thursday was straight-up boring. Nothing much at all really happened.
Well, Friday was actually a recess day, so the legislature wasn't in session. I didn't work but had actually come home the day before. Still, Ben and I watched a great documentary called Ernie Chambers: Still Militant After All These Years
. There was some great stuff in it, like footage of when Senator Chambers had corn rows
. Also, it includes a twenty or twenty-five-year-old clip of when Senator Beutler (still a senator as well) said that Chambers was lying about something--Chambers pushes Beutler away from his microphone and says, "Mr. President, that is uncalled for. If he wants to call me a liar, let him call me a liar outside." What was really amazing was that, in this documentary produced ten years ago, Chambers wore the same shirts that he still wears to this day.
I would recommend watching this clip
of the video (which includes the Beutler-Chambers footage)--it gives a good picture of what Chambers is like that goes above and beyond what you'll read about him in the news.
Labels: Life, Politics