There is a lot happening on Capitol Hill today. It's the first day of the 114th Congress. The freshman class is getting sworn in. House Republicans are fighting about who will lead them. Joe Biden is telling the same joke over and over again and charming a new mom every single time he tells it.
And then there is Rep. Paul Ryan's new beard.
Paul Ryan was not alone.
Some wondered what the facial hair meant.
Some wondered what it meant for 2016.
Many loved the beard.
Few were unimpressed.
At least one person felt deep sorrow because of the beard.
This was not the first time Ryan has sported his self-declared "hunting beard."
This was also not the first time reporters and observers had been entranced by newly ascendant facial hair on Capitol Hill. In 1922, a photo book of Congress was assembled for the first time. The Washington Post noted: "The American Congress is the smoothest-faced legislative body in the world. In European parliaments a man is not a full-fledged, honest-to-goodness legislator unless he has a fine crop of whiskers, a mop of beard or an aristocratic little goatee, it would seem. ... Of the 96 gentlemen who grace the upper chamber of Congress, exactly 59 are smooth-faced. And in the House the number is 337."
In second and third place were the "short, well-cropped mustache" and the "long mustache," respectively.
The Washington Post was not a fan of the long mustache.
Short beards were less popular, but The Post noted that wearing tortoiseshell glasses helped an elected official pull off the look, something the New York Times rediscovered last year when it wrote, "The beard, until recently the scruffy fashion statement of the plaid-shirt-and-craft-beer creative underclass, has lately been institutionalized, co-opted by The Man not only in the form of pinstripe-clad Beltway insiders, but by Wall Street titans, professional sports golden boys, Us Weekly cover boys and morning-show television hosts."
Only one representative had a beard that truly impressed them — Rep. William Atkeson (R-Mo.).
He deserved the honor.
In 1938, The Washington Post even ran a jokey Congressional Beard Report, complete with statistics.
The beards trended Republican, a trend that seemingly continues today.
However, like the Toledo Commercial's political-kissing coverage we shared Monday, The Post's political beard data journalism was not long for this world.
Back to leadership elections and legislation we shall go, then, until political beard bar graphs return once again.