Last week I promised in 2013 to give only serious consideration to serious topics in this space. OK, I've got the serious topic — contempt for Congress. Not contempt of Congress, which you can go to prison for. Contempt for, an American given, held steadily, resolutely, justifiably for more than 200 years.
There was a poll taken last week by one of the major opinion gatherers — Public Policy Polling — to see just how bad the American people think Congress sucks.
It turns out that they think it sucks big time. In great need than ever of some p.r. cpr.
By a wide margin, the American people have a higher opinion of head lice than they have of Congress.
It's hard to believe that there are that many cooties fans out there, or that few defenders of — or apologists for — Congress, but one or the other has to be the case, if you give this poll any credence.
It's also hard to believe we've become so extreme in our cootie-loving and our Congress-hating that we think nothing of confiding such astonishing preferences to an electronic figment and willy-nilly grant it permission to compile and publish them.
Hard to believe, but there you are.
The PPP poll also found that the American people have a higher regard for cockroaches than for Congress. Not cockroaches that used to be people, like Gregor Samsa, but regular old cockroaches that we associate with nastiness, that crunch when you step on them but don't die then and there as befits a household pest but rather skitter away to some dark recess, casting you as the perp, making a raspy sound in fleeing not unlike that of hurt onionskin dragging itself across a columbarium.
The American people see a nobility in the wounded roach that they don't see in the dorks of their Congress critters, as floppity as axed hens.
They also think better of traffic jams, root canals, colonoscopies..
They think better of France, of used car salesmen, of TV news commentators, of football replacement refs, of Genghis Khan, of Donald Trump.
All duly tabulated by the PPP.
I think probably even televangelists would have come in ahead of Congress.
Arlo Guthrie's father-rapers.
Zombies. Those with any charisma at all.
Ah, yes, Congress did beat out gonorrhea in the PPP poll, but not by much.
And the godawful ebola virus: it and Congress were neck and neck, a statistical wash.
You could almost pity the MCs. You almost could. But then in your mind's eye you see the floating-by faces of a few of the worst of them, and the temptation gives way to a vague retchiness, to a passing sigh of dismay.
I don't have the resources of PPP, and my polling ventures have necessarily depended on much smaller and more provincial samples, but the astonishing PPP results inspired me to do a modest Ol' Moi Survey of Arkansas people — to see if Congress rates as abysmally with them as it does with the larger populace.
The answer, according to the responses I've got back, is a resounding yes.
Arkansas people are so dubious of Congress that they have carefully, methodically screened the applications to remove any potential candidate who has shown evidence of having, or ever having had, a lick of sense or a scrap of integrity or who has given the slightest indication that he or she might have a modicum of later-life rehabilitative potential.
Arkansas people see Congress as an institution that can transform an otherwise pleasantly vacuous suckerbill into a bought weasel. Into a facade fanatic. A shameless hypocrite. A talking point. Into something orange.
Arkansas people have a higher opinion of a hacking cough than they have of Congress.
They have a higher opinion of starlings.
They have a higher opinion of malware.
They are considerably more appreciative of longtime residents of Cabot. Even those who are residents of Cabot by choice. Rather than under Witness Protection. Who have not been confined there with no prospect of parole. Who could live in Bryant without having to pay for the upgrade.
Arkansas people would much prefer having Paris Hilton back throwing cow pies at them to having a congressman leaving slime trails on their stomping platforms.
They would much prefer a dirty ol' egg-sucking dog over a Congress critter as their school mascot.
They would rather the Lord smite them with emerods as he did the elders of Ashdod for harboring the purloined ark rather than obliging them to schmooze with a congressional caucus. They'd rather be assigned to bale and haul hay, to handle pit vipers a revival, to go three rounds against a bull gorilla or Janet Huckabee, to donate bile for transfusion to the Westboro ghoulies.
I don't mean to pile on Congress here. I've known members of Congress who were not insane. Who had opposable thumbs. I've known some who were every bit as public spirited as parade marshals, crossing guards, and the little medaled waddler who calls bingo down at the Legion hut. Hard-working even on junket. Often looking to do the right thing.
But I'm just saying. It is what it is. The polls are non-judgmental and merciless, wart no longer velveted as guff's throne.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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