Below I am posting a video of my congressman, the much-esteemed, well-liked, and fast-rising Ozark Billy Long (you’ll know what I mean if you watch it). It’s almost 30 minutes long. It is in the form of an interview by Oklahoma congressman Tom Cole, who, I guess, is auditioning for a job on PBS, after his congressional career comes to an end. You can watch it if you want, but only for your convenience have I picked out a few highlights that I can, uh, celebrate with you.
First up is Billy’s conception of the kind of person who ought to be in Washington representing the folks back home:
I think the Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, people that have run businesses and signed the front of a check, to come up here and serve in Congress instead of people who’ve just been in Congress all their lives.
Now, Ozark Billy has said this kind of thing before. In fact, he ran on it. To him, “citizen legislators” are not postal workers or carpenters or school teachers or domestic engineers, but “people that [sic] have run businesses.” Those folks, he believes, know best how to make things work, know how to make government more efficient, know how to run government like, well, like a business. Never mind that it is insane to think that government can or should be run like a business, unless you think that JP Morgan Chase should have its own Navy. Wait, does JP Morgan Chase have its own Navy? God knows it could afford to buy one.
In any case, Long was asked about what it was like to be a brand new congressman and have to deal with the Joplin tornado that ripped through our town two years ago. Here was his initial reply:
It was really a welcome-to-Congress moment, I guess you could say. It was May 22, 2011, and it was my daughter’s birthday and we have a friend who has a birthday the same day so we were over at their house celebrating two birthdays. And we got word—our district director down in Joplin area called and said, “We’d been hit by a tornado”—and we said, “Oh, okay.” We didn’t think that much of it, because we’re in tornado alley, just like you are in Oklahoma, we have tornadoes all the time.
Hmm. “We didn’t think much of it,” Billy said. He was just told by his own guy on the ground that a tornado had hit Joplin and, shucks, Ozark Billy didn’t think much of it. Heck, tornadoes hit around here all the time. It’s tornado alley, don’t you know. Of course a tornado is going to hit Joplin and of course our congressman isn’t supposed to “think much of it.” That is, until he thought it was headed toward his friend’s house and that birthday party:
And then on the news in Springfield, which is 70 miles to the east, it came on and said there’s a tornado right outside of Springfield…we ran home—there was no basement in the house we were in—and we really thought it was to head to Springfield…
Oh, now I see. When a tornado hits Joplin it’s not much to worry about. But when it is headed Billy’s way, it is. Gotcha. He goes on:
…and then when it evolved and we found out how terrible it was, then we made the decision—I was supposed to come back up here in Washington the next day—but I cancelled all those plans and we got down to Joplin at daybreak the next day…
That’s where Billy’s role as local hero begins.
He explains how he and his staff did heroic things, like leaning on the local fire chief to help get a travel ban lifted so “a prominent businessman in Joplin that was housing eight or ten families at his house” could get back home. That’s our Billy. Always thinking of the bidnessman because, well, you know, those are the ones those darn Founding Fathers thought ought to be in Washington. They are a special breed.
Besides the local heroics, if you watch the video interview you will also be treated to how “proud” Billy is of a resolution he created to not allow to happen in America what almost happened in Cyprus several weeks ago—the government was to levy a tax on the bank deposits of rich Russians, many of whom stash their ill-gotten gains there for strategic reasons.
Billy was “infuriated,” he said, upon learning of what the Cyprus government might do. A determined Billy said, “that will not happen here!” And you know what? It hasn’t! Thanks, Ozark Billy, for stopping Obama from taking our savings!
There are other efforts Billy the congressman chronicles for us, and then there is Billy telling falsehoods about budget balancing and the Keystone XL pipeline. And there is a touching plea for civility in Washington.
But in order to get those details, you’ll just have to sit through the 29-minute interview like I had to: