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THE DON'T FUCK WITH MY FILAMENTS AWARD
Sen. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville
This session, Loudermilk tried to safeguard Georgians' right to choose: Will they equip their lamps with traditional incandescent bulbs or new-fangled compact fluorescent models? In response to a federal push to phase out energy-wasting old-school bulbs, the northwest Georgia Republican authored a bill to prevent the feds from regulating incandescent bulbs that are manufactured and used in Georgia. And he didn't mince words about his distaste for the green technology in a press release: "I've used CFL bulbs in my house ... I can say with authority that the light level that these little things give off stinks." While that legislation has yet to pass, Loudermilk managed to push through the Senate one bill to open abortion doctors to civil suits for violating state restrictions and another to allow folks to tote their shootin' irons purt'near anywhere they like. As he explains: "It just makes no sense to me that someone who is licensed and legally allowed to carry a gun could not carry one into a restaurant, into a church or to a political event." Tell that to Congresswoman Giffords.
THE YOU CAN'T BELIEVE THEM HAWAIIANS AWARD
Rep. Mark Hatfield, R-Waycross
Sure, the state of Hawaii released a copy of President Obama's birth certificate. But Hatfield and his fellow birthers ain't buying it. For the second year in a row, the Waycross Republican introduced legislation to require presidential candidates submit "adequate evidence" of their eligibility (i.e., a "first, original long-form birth certificate") before they could appear on the Georgia ballot. Initially, he had more than 90 GOP co-signers, but as public scrutiny kicked in, they scrambled to scratch their names off the bill faster than a coyote can gnaw off its own leg. In desperation, Hatfield submitted a substitute exempting Obama. After that move earned him accusations of wimping out from birthers, Hatfield, who has a reputation for dickishness, turned peevish, complaining in an e-mail that appeared on a right wing blog: "I don't need people on my own side throwing me under the bus! Thanks!"
THE I WANT TO RIDE MY BICYCLE AWARD
Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens
The eight Democratic lawmakers who joined the GOP after the November elections did so for a range of reasons: Some feared losing their seats when districts are redrawn; others yearned for more political clout; still others felt more ideological kinship with Republicans. But nearly all the party-switchers were rural conservatives, with the notable exception of McKillip, who hails from über-liberal Athens — and who'd just been elected chairman of the House Democratic Caucus! Why did Dougie switch? He told a reporter that he'd been frustrated by his inability to pass a bill to allow local governments to let folks ride bicycles on sidewalks. So, how'd the turncoat thing work out for McKillip? Again, his bike bill never reached the House floor. And next year, the newly minted Republican will face re-election in one of Georgia's bluest districts. Karma's a bitch, dude.
THE FIX IT EVEN IF IT AIN'T BROKE AWARD
Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons, and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock
After several years of the Senate acting as adult to the House's unruly child, this pair initiated a role reversal.
Only days after 1.4 million voters re-elected Casey Cagle as guv-lite, the duo stripped him of nearly all authority as presiding officer of the Senate. In his place was installed an eight-member "leadership" committee run by Williams and Rogers (although a member told CL the group was window-dressing, having met only twice).
Had the only victim been Cagle's bruised ego, that'd be one thing. But the Senate soon descended into virtual anarchy, with Republicans unable to reach consensus on such issues as Sunday alcohol sales and tax reform. The leadership void has been so debilitating that a frustrated Speaker Ralston called for the Senate to end its "little experiment," saying the shenanigans were coming "perilously close to ... harming the people of Georgia."
But why be surprised at what Rogers, a former talk-radio host who made his name pushing anti-immigrant bills, and Williams, a holy roller with a Napoleon complex, hath wrought? Rogers is currently trying to dodge a lawsuit over a loan default on a run-down motel he co-owned. And Williams was outed by the AJC for backing a bill seemingly tailored to benefit a company whose lobbyist is tight with Williams' political consultant.
Um, can we put Casey back in charge now?
THE WHEN I CALLED YOU THE GRAND WIZARD, I MISTOOK YOU FOR HARRY POTTER AWARD
Senate Minority Leader Robert Brown, D-Macon
The embattled chief Dem is prone to theatrics, from wielding bottles of booze at the lectern to projecting photos of colleagues draped in Confederate flags. But Brown's creative oratorical skills failed him last December as he discussed the post-election Democratic exodus to the GOP on Macon TV. When Brown quipped that one party-switcher needed to keep his "white sheets" for "the midnight meeting," even Uga VIII naturally assumed Brown had equated joining the Republican Party with membership in the KKK. But rather than apologize, Brown staged a press conference a few days later in which he dissed critics for misconstruing his accusations of racism and then compounded the insult by spinning some malarkey about his comment being a reference to Republicans' recent sex scandals. Get it? Sheets, bed, affairs with lobbyists ... whatevs. The event ended with class when one of the senator's supporters assaulted a photographer.
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