Monday, February 27, 2006

Ernie Evacuates the Capitol

The Olympics are over and I didn't watch any of it (them?). None. Nada. Zilch. I complained about Medium and Earl being preempted. I feel guilty about my lack of national pride, so here's a story that makes me proud to be an American.

On June 9, 2004 Ernie Fletcher, a former Member of Congress and the Governor of Kentucky, came to town to attend the funeral of Ronald Reagan. His plane's communications equipment was broken, and as a result, the entire Capitol complex was evacuated. Good job, Ernie.

I was coming back from lunch with Aunt Bob on the Senate side, and when I saw the barricaded streets, I just assumed the funeral procession was coming through ahead of schedule. It was hot out, so I ducked into the Library of Congress to get back to my office.

I was stopped before entering the Cannon building. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” the Capitol Police officer told me, “this building has been evacuated, you can’t come through this way.”

I shrugged and turned around. At least the tunnel was air-conditioned. That’s when a Member of Congress - a former member of our Committee - caught up with me. He recognized me, and asked me if I knew how to get to a certain room in the Library from here. I did, and offered to show him, because it was complicated from the tunnels.

On the way, we met up with a Representative from the other party. I learned our destination was a room where Members were instructed to assemble in the event of an air attack.

When we got there, the room was empty. Apparently, instead of going to the designated meeting point, the other Members of the House of Representatives - all 433 of them - scattered like buckshot instead of gathering in a room dangerously close to the Capitol.

The two Congressmen were puzzled. They waited in the room for a bit before seeking out a Capitol Police officer and learning that it was a false alarm. While we waited, the Democrat turned to the Republican and said, “Well . . . I’ll flip you for Speaker.”


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