The Diddly Awards

The Aaron Burr Award for Constitutional Devotion

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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.

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.”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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