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One idea to expedite government oversight? Toss officials in water and see if they can swim

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) questions a witness about a State Department cable during a hearing on Benghazi last year. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

To help House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) speed up his “witch hunts,” one Democrat suggested Friday perhaps a 17th century method might be more efficient than lengthy hearings and predestined committee votes.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) is prepared to toss the likes of former IRS official Lois Lerner, U.S. Attorney Gen. Eric Holder and White House political adviser David Simas into water to see if they’ll sink or swim. An aboveground pool (naturally, it would be unrealistic to have an inground one) would be placed inside the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing room.

“We are picking winners and losers, when it is clearly obvious that witches can only be found by dunking them in water. If they float they’re a witch. If they don’t, installing a pool will allow us to retrieve the non-witch before he or she drowns,” Cárdenas said in an actual press release. “Like the Chairman, I am interested in effective government oversight and reform. This pool will allow that to take place, wasting far fewer taxpayer dollars in the process.”

Yes, ladies and gentleman, with absolutely no serious work getting done on Capitol Hill, members of Congress have turned to satire, officially.

“It’s a ridiculous release to underscore the ridiculous,” Cárdenas’ office tells us.

Cárdenas proposes the new pool be called the: “Senator Joseph R. McCarthy Memorial Truth Pond.” The words of former head counsel for the U.S. Army, Joseph N. Welch, who asked McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” would be enshrined on a plaque.

Issa, to be sure, does seem to take pleasure in being a White House irritant. Since becoming chairman in 2011 he’s issued close to a 100 subpoenas. Most recently his target has been Simas, the director of the White House Office of Political Strategy, contending that Simas’s position might violate a federal law that official and campaign business be separate. Issa’s committee voted 19-14 along party lines to reject the White House’s claim that Simas has immunity from testifying.

The average aboveground pool usually runs under $5,000, but lest anyone accuse Cárdenas of wasting taxpayer dollars, he says members and staff alike would be free to use it recreationally … when it’s not being used for witch trials, of course.


Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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