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This Nickelback debate on the House floor shows the latest congressional divide

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) joked March 7 about the “pretty low” number of Nickelback fans while discussing an election measure. (Video: U.S. House)
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The band Nickelback has practically become rhetorical shorthand for “something everybody hates.” Case in point: A polling firm determined in 2013 that Congress was less popular than some pretty reviled things, including lice, colonoscopies, root canals and the Canadian rockers known for such hits as the earworm “Photograph.”

So when Nickelback was invoked Thursday on the House floor, it was, at first, mentioned in the usual way. During debate over a voting rights provision, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) brought up the measure’s low popularity, noting that 4 out of 77,000 people asked had favored it. And that, he concluded, is “probably about the percent of people who think Nickelback is their favorite band in this country — it’s pretty low.”

Well, this turned out to be the equivalent of a glove tossed on the floor of the hallowed chamber. And Rep. Rodney Davis, for one, was not going to stand silent. “Why would you criticize one of the greatest bands of the ’90s?” the Illinois Republican parried in a tone of outrage.

“Wow, all right,” said Pocan, who appeared truly surprised that anyone would hold such an opinion of the musical group, let alone profess it in such a public forum (I mean, this is going in the Congressional Record, where it will remain archived for all time, congressman!). And then the Democrat said, “One more reason why there’s a difference between Democrats and Republicans, clearly found on the floor of the Congress today.”

Davis went on to defend his unpopular opinion, suggesting that to slam Nickelback was a move fraught with political peril. “My colleague from Wisconsin, I know he did not mean to offend the thousands upon thousands of Nickelback fans in his district,” Davis said.

But this particular debate, it seemed, was not going to come to blows (which has actually happened in Congress, folks) — actually, the pair looked as if they were about to crack up during the entire exchange. “It’s always good to have some good humor on the floor of the House,” Davis relented, after confessing to enjoying a Nickelback tune on a jogging playlist.

And Pocan completed the bipartisan detente. “I will just wrap by saying I appreciate that very brave admission of your fandom for Nickelback,” the Democrat said. “That’s very brave, and I do recognize that.”