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The Diddly Awards

Honoring the jaw-dropping achievements of the 108th Congress

With billions in Iraq construction contracts pending last year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) borrowed World War II-era language for an amendment that would criminalize war profiteering. But the Republican leadership not only removed it; they also raised the limit on no-bid contracts from $7.5 million to $200 million, inaugurating a new era of raiding the U.S. Treasury, all of it legal.

Meanwhile, on the home front, pork spending has enjoyed such an unimaginable renaissance that even Pork Prince Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) is offended. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, for one, convinced the government to underwrite the $225 million creation of an African rainforest in Iowa to help children appreciate the "wonders of the jungle." Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) procured a subsidy to help build a Hooters restaurant.

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Let it be said here that this, the 108th Congress, will go down in history alongside the fetid Congresses of the 1880s, which laid back for the robber barons, and the "Laissez les bon temps rouler" Congress of 1929-30, whose anti-regulatory stubbornness walked us, eyes wide shut, into the Great Depression. Congressional rascality on such a scale requires a comparable arrogance of power. It's not a coincidence that in this current Congress, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist convened 35 heart transplant patients he operated on so they could wash him with praise, before self-publishing a book titled Good People Beget Good People: A Genealogy of the Frist Family.

Yet even as they have scoffed at the rules the rest of us plebs must live by and spent like drunken sailors, the most profligate Congress in nearly a century still found myriad opportunities to, once again, do diddly.

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