The Diddly Awards

The Aaron Burr Award for Constitutional Devotion

Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) lost his temper during a summer hearing on the Patriot Act. In the midst of sworn testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, which he chairs, he denounced the proceedings as “irrelevant” and angrily gaveled the meeting closed, in violation of the “unanimous consent” rule. As the floor erupted with protests from witnesses and opposition party members, Sensenbrenner’s staff turned off the microphones and then walked out.

Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), who, as House speaker, is ultimately responsible for forcing Rep. John Conyers into a basement room described as a “large closet” to hold hearings on the Downing Street Memos. During the time that Conyers called witnesses to testify, Hastert scheduled 11 floor votes to keep members from attending.

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Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) exploded with so much rage at Democrats who earlier this year had decided to prevent a judicial nominee from coming to a vote by employing the filibuster—a parliamentary maneuver that is more than 160 years old—that he compared the Dems to Nazis: “It’s the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, ‘I’m in Paris. How dare you invade me? How dare you bomb my city? It’s mine.’”

Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) leaped into the verbal assault of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee who’s recently angered Republicans to the point that some have begun calling for his impeachment, by noting that one of Kennedy’s high crimes and misdemeanors was that “he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous.”

WINNER! Rick Santorum, for explaining to television interviewer Barry Nolan that America’s “entire culture” was focused on something that was “harming America.” Reaching for just the right words, Santorum boasted of his knowledge of “our founding documents” before hitting upon the precise phrase to describe what is destroying the land: “the pursuit of happiness.”