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   The Best and Worst of Congress

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10/1/2004 12:00 am

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Entered 10/1/2004, Updated 10/1/2004

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THE BEST AND WORST OF CONGRESS. One annual set of insider ratings I always enjoy reading are Washingtonian magazine's annual review of the best and worse of Congress. A large number of the top Congressional staffers from both parties are surveyed to determine the winners. So, you may ask, who are the smartest members of Congress? On the Senate site, it was a virtual three-way tie between Senators Bill Frist (R-TN), Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) and Dick Lugar (R-IN). On the House side, Congressmen Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Barney Frank (D-MA) were by far the top finishers. Byrd was also named the biggest "C-SPAN Ham" in the Senate. And the dumbest legislators? Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) tied for the honor on the Senate side, while Duke Cunningham (R-CA), Kathryn Harris (R-FL), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Karen McCarthy (D-MO) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) took the prize in the House. Meanest legislators? Arlen Specter (R-PA), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) all made the list for the fourth time, and Bill Thomas easily won on the House side. Nicest? Walter Jones (R-NC), Lois Capps (D-CA), Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Mary Landrieu (D-LA). Funniest: Barney Frank and Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS). Frank "has been the 'funnyman' nearly every year we’ve asked," added the magazine. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) performed poorly, as staffers overwhelmingly named her for three dubious honors: biggest showboater, biggest C-SPAN Ham, and "biggest windbag." And who are the unheralded heroes on the Hill -- the "workhorses" who actually put in the hours and get the job done? Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Congressmen Bill Thomas, Dave Obey (D-WI) and John Spratt (D-SC) took this true honor.


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