Five years ago, a still-fairly-unknown politician from Vermont held the floor of the Senate for eight-and-a-half hours. Bernie Sanders's demonstration -- later published as a print book simply called "The Speech" -- articulated his opposition to a tax agreement cobbled together by the White House and Congress. You can read it here, if you want. It's long.

At the time, it was fairly remarkable. Long speeches (official filibusters or no) weren't terribly common. But Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has brought them back into vogue.

In 2013, he talked for 770-plus minutes in opposition to the appointment of John Brennan to lead the CIA. That inspired Ted Cruz, who, later that year, spoke for over 1,200 minutes in a non-filibuster speech opposed to Obamacare. And then, on Wednesday, Paul added 640 more minutes to his speaking total.

Combined, the three senators have spent two days and five-and-a-half hours talking on the floor of the Senate on four occasions.

If the point of a filibuster is to block legislation, three of the four efforts failed -- with Paul's most recent yet to be determined. If the point of the filibuster is to raise awareness of an issue, each was successful to some degree.

If the point of a filibuster is to draw attention to a candidate to bolster his political career? They're four-for-four there, too. Why film a campaign ad when you can get 10 hours of media coverage?