I know we've entered the silly season in our run up to the quadrennial television marketing extravaganza known as the US Presidential Election, but our do-nothing-but-pad-the-pockets-of-those-whose-pockets-are-already-padded Congress has truly stepped up the past two weeks.
First, they distinguished themselves by being the first group of ruffians to hold a sitting Attorney General in criminal contempt over the so-called Fast and Furious "scandal". Let me translate: They pandered to the ageing-fat-white guy demographic that makes up their base and the Board of the National Rifle Association (NRA), by attacking the black Attorney General who happens to work for the black President.
[Congress] pandered to the ageing-fat-white guy demographic that makes up their base and the Board of the National Rifle Association (NRA), by attacking the black Attorney General who happens to work for the black President.
You know the guys I'm talking about, the ones who think an all-white weekend get-together of rhetorical cross-burning by an Alabama Pastor with "Christian Identity Ministries" is a swell idea. Or a Republican state legislator in Louisiana who supports vouchers for religious schools, until she discovers that they'll also cover institutions of learning that are not all Christian-y (The Muslims are coming, the Muslims are coming!).
Yup, Rep Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Congress - which makes sense, as he has only been charged with or suspected of carrying guns illegally, stealing cars and committing arson and insurance fraud - was performing for the team on this one, ginning up the base and doing the dirty work of the NRA. To be fair, so were the 17 Democrats, Blue Dogs mostly (quelle surprise!), who at the command of the NRA took a ludicrous vote based on internet rumours and calculated conspiracy-mongering.
No matter that as Washington DC-based white collar attorney David Benowitz pointed out to me, this was simply a "brazen example of politics trumping substance", that Andrew Gumbell - author of Oklahoma City: What The Investigation Missed - And Why It Still Matters - further explained will inflame an element of the paranoid, militia-obsessed Right that eerily "parallel their brethren from the early to mid-1990s in terms of their hatred for government, passion for guns and feeling that things are moving beyond their control".
Like Charles Barkely might say, they're not role models, so if people get killed because of the rhetoric or actions of members of Congress, how could they possibly have predicted it?
Still more cowardice
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As a Fortune Magazine investigative report made clear, most of the Fast and Furious Story is misleading or flat-out false, but then again, this is a Congress who also just used taxpayer money to vote for the 33rd time to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). A vote they knew had about as much of a chance of becoming legally binding as a Tom Cruise wedding.
Ostensibly, they did this, because as Congressman and Indiana gubernatorial hopeful Mike Pence of Indiana thinks, providing children with the right to stay on their parents’ health care until they are 26 is akin to 9/11, or something (yeah, he actually said that).
Also, in their defence, I've heard that the 34th time Congressional Republicans vote on something they get free tote bags.
Although, once again to be clear, five Democrats joined in this act of pointless pusillanimity, likely because they believe in mythical ghost of Ronald Reagan and not so much in themselves. And these five, of course, overlap with the aforementioned 17.
Meaning there are five Democrats who took two incredibly stupid votes over just the past two weeks, and if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or any similar organ spends one cent on their re-election (three of the five, Reps. Kissell, McIntyre and Matheson think they’re worthy of "serving us" again), well, you get what you pay for, guys.
But it should be clear that the rank nihilism - which is beginning to resemble that of the defenders of that "Peculiar Institution" in pre-Civil War America - that's infected the Supreme Court, US Attorneys and others meant by our Constitution to be beyond this kind of thing, has become an airborne virus in the United States Capitol.
To quote nonpartisan Congressional scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, "Let's just say it: Republicans are the problem... The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."
And this "insurgent outlier" seems to have found some unmoored Democrats to join them in clever little plans. Ain't that a gas.
Anytime you feel like going to Washington, Mr Smith, we're waiting.
Cliff Schecter is an author, pundit and public relations strategist whose firm Libertas, LLC, handles media relations for political, corporate and non-profit clients.
Follow him on Twitter: @CliffSchecter
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.