There's more to how the salmon sausage is made

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 27, 2011; 10:51 PM

Hardly surprising that the thing viewers remember most from President Obama's State of the Union speech is his joke about how many federal agencies have jurisdiction over salmon - with Interior in charge in fresh water and Commerce in salt water.

We had expected, at least from early chatter about the speech, that Obama might capitalize on the moment when he had everyone's attention to unveil a proposal to streamline U.S. efforts to boost exports and also to attract foreign investment in this country.

The idea would be to combine the functions of the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., the Export-Import Bank, and parts of the Commerce Department and numerous other agencies - from the Agriculture Department to the State Department - to better coordinate efforts.

The idea probably hasn't been shelved, but, given some sleep- inducing portions already in the address, cooler heads probably decided that listeners couldn't handle more wonkiness.

The congressional audience laughed heartily at the salmon joke. Congress, after all, loves to slam inefficiency and duplication in the executive branch - even though Congress is oft responsible for it.

"There's some notion that all of these overlapping, contradictory programs happened by accident," said New York University professor Paul Light. "That is absolutely not true. They got that way because a member or group of members wanted to retain control of this or that program to satisfy some of their constituents.

"In terms of overlapping and wasteful programs," he said, "every stream leads back to Capitol Hill."

Going once, going twice

Freshman Republican Rep. Billy Long, the Missouri auctioneer and tea party favorite, was among those who took a chance but failed to get a flight out of Dulles during Wednesday night's snowstorm.

He tweeted of his plight, our colleague Philip Rucker reports. "Stranded at Dulles with Reps. Michele Bachmann & Dr. Phil Gingrey & his Wife Billie plus everyone else in the free world - no more flights," he typed.

Then: "Dulles PA 'Don't accept ground transportation offers from anyone - REALLY? They could charge $200 if they could get to the terminal!!!"

Three hours later, Long tweeted: "Midnight at the Oasis - and we're stuck in a for real Cul-De-Sac, we surrender after 9 hours of this Dulles/Subdivision adventure."

Thursday morning brought better news for our hardy travelers. "We dug out in light of day - crashed at a Rep. Bachmann's staffer's house - like Willie Nelson put on my cleanest dirty shirt - Dulles bound."

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