This is a reprise of a 2007 New Year's diary. Obviously, trading Dubya in for Obama is long past needed. And everyone has their own pet victories and disappointments. (They re-elected Michelle Bachmann?)
But I simply must start with NEW MEXICO!! We won it all this year, and with good margins. It is a testament to our new paper trail voting system, compared to past irregularities. So, I'll start with "Pajamas" Pete, "Nipplegate" Heather, and fashion disaster Stevan Pearce.
I like our new delegation of Heinrich (NM-01), Teague (NM-02), Luján (NM-03), plus Udall promoted to the Senate. And isn't it a hoot how annoyed Heather Wilson looks at having to be a loyal "team player" after she lost the primary for the Senate seat she'd long seen herself as the heir apparent for? Ha ha ha! Tainted by the US attorney thing, and perhaps by the Abramoff business, too. Leaving all else aside, Pete just needed to retire. It was time.
Pearce? I've taken the time to read his press releases over the years. Not a reality-based guy, that's all I can say. Maybe he'll run for Governor in 2010. Or maybe he'll get an honest job? For now at least, he's out of power. And that's a good thing. Meanwhile, I can't figure out who dresses the dude. I mean really? He needs tips from Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer about how to wear a bolo. Pearce should be embarrassed to call himself a Westerner! I can't help but wonder sometimes what these people were like in High School.
There's a lot of Republican wingnuts, and too many of 'em kept their seats. (Michelle Bachmann got re-elected? WTF?!?!) I have three favorites I was especially pleased to see get the boot: Marilyn Musgrove (CO-04), Bill Sali (ID-02) and Virgil Goode (VA-05).
Marilyn Musgrove seems blissed out at Dubya slobbering on her temple. At least in this year of the big setback of Prop 8 in California, there was the one bright light: This noxious Congressperson, whose political career was built mainly on being anti-gay, needs to go look for a new job. Does anyone know if she conceded the race? Two weeks after the election she had not, despite having lost by double digits.
Bill Sali. Too much of a conservative wingnut even for Helen Chenowith's old seat. Dems mebbe won't hold this one any longer than Republicans will hold LA-02. But it's still nice to see Sali go the way of Larry Craig. Out of power!
Last, but decidedly not least is Virgil Goode. What a wonderful surprise to see this vile bit of dreck defeated! (Remember, he's the one who got all public-display-of-bigotry about Keith Ellison getting sworn into Congress...) Here he is with fellow bigot, George Allen, who went down last time around. And until then had been considered a top contender for President. Friggin' Preznit!!!!
And yes, Goode is a bigot. How do I know? There it is - right on his storefront window. (Sometimes, a little low level creative vandalism is just the thing!)
But really, how could anyone call him a bigot? Virgil Goode loves puppies!!!
REPUBLICAN CULTURE OF CORRUPTION
Power corrupts, so there's always gonna be the occasional William Jefferson or Rod Blagojevich. But the Republican Culture of Corruption is another game entirely. Of the dengre 65 Abramoff-affiliated GOP pols, 42 survived the 2006 midterm. This time, we defeated 11 more, 7 more retired, and one (Chris Cannon in Utah) lost a primary contest. Now, only 25 of that 65 remain in office - just a bit more than a third of the original bunch.
Good to recall that dengre's list only included Abramoff-related corruption. So Rick Renzi, who's under indictment for shady land transactions, didn't make dengre's list. He retired, too. You may not know that Renzi is the most prolific member of Congress, with a dozen kids. And yeah, this is his first an only wife in this picture:
You've probably noticed how Dubya does creepy things to invade the personal space of people smaller than him. It looks like he expects others to treat him the same way. (That's Renzi again in the bottom part.)
Tom Feeney, of Florida (in case you can't tell from the oranges), is another one of those Abramoff-related associates.
Feeney has one of those "Separated at birth?" things going on with ex-Arizona Congressman J.D. Hayworth (who lost in 2006, another of the dengre 65.) The pix on the left are Feeney, and Hayworth's on the right.
And then there's Vito. Vito Fosella. Vito, Vito, Vito. The guy who got a DWI on his way to see his girlfriend-on-the-side who has his child. I'm assuming there's a few more grievances against him floating around somewhere.
Vito's got that movie star, casual devil-may-care look that it takes a top-notch stylist a lot of meticulous work to get just right. Vito's always got that little wild lock of unruly hair. And, whoa! Is that a nun Vito's making nice with?
But, it would appear, there's somebody who's less than thrilled with him.
This is another one of these guys you can just imagine when they were in high school. Definitely more fashion sense than Pearce.
And of course, we can't forget convicted felon Ted Stevens! Who failed to noticed a hefty six figures worth of home improvements that he didn't pay for. (Though I suspect that he, at least, knows how many homes he owns.) He's the only one of these whose "official" portrait is so bizarre it qualifies for inclusion in this diary.
And here is on a junket to Gitmo with Rummy and Dianne Feinstein doing her best to impersonate Bozo the Clown.
I've mentioned Ted Stevens already. Ditto on "Pajamas" Pete Domenici. But there's more. We've gotten so blasé that winning 7 (potentially 8) Senate seats was a more hum-drum headline than winning six for the 110th Congress.
John Warner (Elizabeth Taylor's sixth - or seventh depending how you count Sir Richard - husband) retired, and Mark Warner's in now in Virginia. George Allen lost in Virginia last time, too. (See Goode, above.) We're stuck with the likes of Inhofe for the duration, unfortunately. But he's a lot less noxious when he's not running one of the key Senate committees with jurisdiction over climate change. Good to remember when I get impatient with the milquetoast Dems sometimes. There's too many limitations, but elections DO have consequences:
Wayne Allard's website is kinda Old School. Quite a few, perhaps because of being burned by Abramoff-related associations, only show themselves with constituents any more. But the retiring Colorado Senator has lots of pictures of himself with pals. And looking at Alito and Roberts here? Somebody ought collect a video library of Republicans getting all indignant about "up or down votes". I'm thinking they're gonna forget about that once Obama comes in, and they (and the public) will need a little reminding on that.
From upper left, moving clockwise, Allard is depicted with 1) Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor, married to Mitch McConnell, 2) Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito (while making the rounds as a nominee), 3) Abramoff associate and money launderer Grover "drown it in a bathtub" Norquist, and 4) Chief Justice (then nominee) John Roberts.
Allard likes puppies, too! And pooties. In case you don't recognize the dog below, it's a celebrity - none other than Benji!
Gordon Smith, the Udall cousin who failed to be re-elected as Republican Senator from Oregon doesn't have a lot of pictures of himself posted.
And here he is standing up with ol' "Joementum" Lieberman, who appears in pictures with Republicans more than any other non-Republican. Very nice to see Lieberman's relevance shrinking as he fails to stem the tide of history.
John Sununu's daddy got hustled out of Bush I Administration for using a public jet to fly for a golf game. His son just fell by the wayside because he was a Republican at a time when New England didn't want them around. So he goes the way of Republicans Jeb Bradley & Charlie Bass, who lost their NH House seats in 2006. None of 'em likely to catch a ride on Air Force One in the foreseeable!!
And then there's Elizabeth "Liddy" Dole. Her one term in the Senate is known mostly for an abysmal performance as head of NSCC in 2006, and for rarely actually setting foot in North Carolina. Though, in fairness, probably no one could have done very well at that job at that time, what with the tide of history (plus us, the netroots) working against her. The red thing is from the NSCC period.
Lord knows when the puppy pic was taken - not very lately, I'd hazard a guess. But why would a US Senator post such an image on their website? It looks like no one asked the dog if it wanted to be there, either.
Norm Coleman, he who manages to display conspicuous consumption of cosmetic dentistry services, hasn't officially lost his seat. Yet. But I've got high hopes. Besides, I've been really looking forward to seeing Al Franken on C-SPAN. For all the talk of him being a "comedian" running for office? If you listened to him on Air America, you know he's a policy wonk, with good understanding of a wide array of issues.
Norm is in trouble not unlike what tripped Ted Stevens up. Norm might be better off to have this investigation move forward in the relative obscurity of being a private citizen.
I wonder what the record is for the longest amount of time it took a Senate contest to be settled? This one might end up being one for the record books.
I also wonder if you and I, the taxpayers, paid for Norm and Laurie's visit to Humayun's Tomb?
OK. That's it for the Senate. But there's still a bunch of House races to go. And with a final note on ribbon cutting at the end.
(The Rest of) THE HOUSE
Yikes! If I stopped with the Senate, this would be a long diary. But there's still a bunch of House seats that changed hands to cover. Two years ago, I commented on the bad hair of a few outgoing Republican House members, including Gil Gutknecht in MN-01, a guy that seemed like he escaped from Prairie Home Companion.
For those who don't recall, Gil showed how frugal he was by collecting signatures to get on the ballot, rather than pay a filing fee. Except he screwed up, didn't comply with the petition laws, and ended up spending way more than the filing fee to send lawyers into court to get on the ballot anyhow by some kind of waiver.
Anyhow, Gutknecht's bad hairpiece ain't got nothing on Steve Chabot, lately of OH-01. That's his combover on the right. (You cannot make this shit up!) And below, how it looks from the front. He's the guy at the podium, joined by a coupla other loser Republicans from 2006, Mike DeWine (OH-Sen) and Melissa Hart (PA-04).
Another one who raises questions about "Who dresses this guy?" is Joe Knollenberg of Michigan. I mean really! Though these ties are so outrageous, they are likely intentional. Perhaps he got a reputation for wild ties, and lobbyists would gift them to him over his years in Congress. Or not. (I'm making that up.)
Anyhow, another question comes to mind is this: Why are these people wearing hard hats? To turn over some ceremonial spadesful of dirt? Those soldiers standing by to watch don't seem to need them. Ceremonial groundbreaking pix are a staple of public officials' websites. And a lot of them wear hard hats to do it. (Though not all.) Maybe it makes them feel closer to the people? I dunno, but it sure strikes me as ridiculous! Knollenberg's the one in the business suit, rather than in military uniform.
Terry Everett of Alabama, who retired and was replaced by Democrat Bobby Bright, was one of those old school guys. His website had tons of pix of him with famous faces. His days of riding on Air Force One are likely over. So perhaps are those of Sen. Jeff Sessions - the two pictured below in that setting.
Thelma Drake (VA-02) isn't leaving office voluntarily. She got beat in the blue wave that swept her state. Her website was more modern - none of those pictures with powerful people that might come back to bite her later. But clearly she enjoys the perqs of the job:
Phil English (PA-03), on the other hand, doesn't seem to enjoy being in Congress quite as much as Ms. Drake:
John "Randy" Kuhl (NY-29) was knocked off by netroots favorite Eric Massa (yay!) in his second try at the seat. Kuhl's a mixed bag on liking the job. He appears delighted in the many pictures with the famous and powerful. He's the only one who seems to genuinely enjoy this photo op:
Dubya can barely muster a fake smile, and would clearly rather be out clearing brush, or riding his bike. And Laura? One is left to wonder how much of her "look" is pharmacological in its provenance, and how much is surgical. Meanwhile, Kuhl doesn't seem to enjoy himself so much amongst the actual constituents he was elected to represent. (This pattern is abundantly repeated on his website - this is no cherry pick...)
Oh, he also has a bunch of smiling pics with (apparent) interns from the Capitol dome somewhere (and it seems to need some paint up there). Dunno if he ever had any young males working for him, but no pix like these with pretty young women appears on his website:
Three more southerners who won't be appearing on C-SPAN, at least not from the House floor are - in order of appearance - Tom Davis (VA-11), Robin Hayes (NC-08), and Ric Keller (FL-08). Big cheers for Larry Kissell sticking in there as part of the North Carolina blue wave this year. And Keller? Photographed here in the Arctic tundra, where he's apparently clueless - except that he looks like this in most of his pictures, like he's having trouble with his contact lenses or some such. The parties should give these guys training in how to be photographed - not everyone's got the natural relationship with the camera found in Vito Fosella, after all. Keller's another one I can't help but imagine what he was like in high school.
When it comes to the quality of pictures posted, Jon Porter of Nevada does pretty well. Not because of his presence, so much as adept use of backdrop. None of which helped him as he lost his seat anyhow.
One of the last races to settle was Mary Jo Kilroy taking over the seat of retiring Deborah Pryce in Ohio. Pryce was the only picture of a female lawmaker I saw participating in sports of any kind (unless you count riding a horse in a parade as a "sport":
And Jim Walsh (NY-25)? Looks he's planning on spending his retirement time fishing?
And then there's Tim Walberg of Michigan. This picture looks a lot like suburban landscaping to me. Not the best place to run around with a shotgun looking for quail. But mebbe he didn't want to accept that invitation from Cheney?
But he does seem to be thinking about what to do for his next job. Gas station appearances during the "Drill, baby drill!" episode of campaign season was a common occurrence. But not all of them actually pumped the gas. And this guy in a tie, too:
Two years ago, the "good riddance" diary had a whole section on House seats the GOP lost in New England. This time, that section consists of but one solitary seat - the only one left. Chris Shays in Connecticut. But he didn't stand a chance.
In good part due to the company he's kept over the years:
Bringing home the bacon is a common theme to Congressional website photo galleries. Here, it's Ralph Regula, retired from Ohio, with departing Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. Hilda Solis is gonna be a huge improvment!
Something odd popped up while downloading pictures from his website. They were a little buried as there were no links from the public part of the site to the pix. Can anyone explain what this warning (from NoScript) is about?
Wayne Gilchrest was one of the few remaining "good" Republicans, but knocked off in the primary by a wingnut. He didn't campaign for the guy, who couldn't win in the general. So it's a pickup. Gilchrest was one of the last of that disappearing breed of GOP conservationist, for him particularly on marine matters, and photographed here at a marine lab:
UPDATE: I thought I recalled that Gilchrest had campaigned for the Democrat, Frank Kratovil, in the general election. I wasn't sure, so I didn't include it. (I was a little lazy, and didn't take the time to look it up.) I got an e-mail calling me to task for omitting Gilchrest's active role in the Kratovil victory. He did announce, once he lost the primary that he'd use the rest of his effort in Congress for environmental protection, too.
Another standard issue picture is the ribbon cutting. Kind of a bookend to go with the groundbreaking event. But most of these characters don't seem to be able to manage to cut a piece of ribbon themselves, at least if we're to believe the pictures. Retiring Jim Saxton from New Jersey needs help handling the ceremonial scissors:
Ever the suck-up helper, Heather Wilson was still seeing herself as heir apparent to Domenici's NM Senate seat. For all the good it did her ethically challenged, faux outrage persona:
Jerry Weller of Illinois had a wide array of not very good pix on his website. Having the heads in the shade and the hands in bright sun does not make for a great picture. But, also, look how there's an aide with "real" scissors to do the actual cutting while the Congressman weilds the prop scissors:
Sen. John Sununu at least gets credit for cutting his own ribbon. Plus for having a photographer who often captured his picture in dynamic action. None of which, of course, saved his seat for him in the New England blue tide:
Speaking of not-so-good pix, I'll add a little more on Rep. Jerry Weller. I can understand a picture like this coming out of the camera. What I can't understand is why it would be posted on the website, when any ten-year-old could tell it's not good enough to be worth keeping.
Which brings us to one of the things I've learned about combing these public websites. These guys (and gals) have substantial egos, and usually make sure their own pix look reasonably good. Some are, of course, better than others. But they are not so careful about others who are pictured with them. So, for example, I once came across a picture of James Sensenbrenner (WI-08) picking his nose on another Congressman's website. I'm thinking this isn't the image Jerry Weller wanted to cultivate of himself. But it came from Luis Fortuño's site - the Republican delegate from Puerto Rico.
So if you go on your own exploratory expedition, remember that the best things can pop up in surprising places. And despite the large array of pictures here, I'm assuming others of you have more to contribute, snarky comments, or whatever else you're in the mood for to celebrate the banishment of these Republicans from power.