the  B A L L S  Award for 27 June 2007

NOTE: The BALLS referenced by this award should not be taken to mean actual testicles, but rather the essence of what Karen Salmansohn talks about in her book Ballsy.

Today's BALLS Award goes to two men in a profession generally not known for its display of BALLS. But there has been a slow but steady blossoming of Spine in certain quarters of Washington DC this Spring, and it seems to be gaining steam so far this Summer. We'll see if it can sustain itself, but for now here are two good signs.

Representative Henry Waxman of Cali's 30th District has long been the federal government's de facto auditor, working the House Oversight Committee like a dawg. With the Dems tenuusly back in the saddle he assumed the Chair of the Committee this year and has been, oh, exercising oversight. Given the amount of adult supervision that this Administration has lacked in its sad strange little tenure, Rep. Waxman has taken on a Herculean task.

You've probably seen the Waxman on your preferred video news device once or twice, politely and patiently questioning various malfeasants in and out of government, erm, "service". On the surface he looks too meek to even be an accountant, but in a drivetime epiphany I realized that the mild mannered Congressman reminds me most of the late Wally Cox.

I began to suspect that the Henry Waxman we see is but a secret identity. CA-30 - which encompasses some of the most reality-impaired parts of Los Angeles such as Old Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and porn capital Chatsworth - is represented by none other than Underdog.

No, that would be too cartoonish, and DC is enough of a bad piece of Claymation for my tastes. Waxman is a genuine superhero: human, with special powers, facing the forces of evil against the odds. The special powers he possesses come in the form of Congressional oversight, and of late The Wax has been ramping it up to the max. And as far as the evil part goes, well, take your pick.

Underdog? Pit Bull. With a pair of iron ones.

Our second BALLS honoree has alternately been the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman or Ranking Member since the Horrors of early 2001, and is perhaps best remembered as the man to whom Dick "Can't Touch This" Cheney uttered the famous dictum, "Aaaaah, go (Eff) yerself!" on the Senate Floor.

But rather than take the bait, Vermont's senior Senator Pat Leahy bided his time, re-assumed the Chairmanship, and today issued subpoenas to the White House regarding the Administration's secret surveillance ops. It's only a first step, and who knows whether this will lead to real investigations or just the usual dog and pony show, but since Master Dick is once again creating his own reality out of thin air, we award a pair of Big Brass to Senator Leahy for, well, doing his job.

Go (Eff) yourself? Oh, grow up already, Cheney.


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