Editorial: Only in America

7 May 2001
It's no secret that the political scene in Washington D.C. has changed dramatically from the time the founding fathers penned such historic and patriotic documents as the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. No doubt the likes of Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson have been unable to rest in peace as they watch over the shenanigans of the modern-day United States Congress.

With political action groups and special interests dominating the agenda on Capitol Hill, gone are the days of "one-person, one-vote," and Americans have grown accustomed to this Democracy for the New Millennium.

What Americans haven't grown accustom to, nor should they have to, is the type of urinating match that occurred last week over a bill that would place a permanent ban on college sports betting.

In case you missed it, the bill successfully made it out of the Senate's Commerce Committee, but only by the thinnest of margins.

Former presidential candidate--and current chair of the Commerce Committee--Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., brought out all the tricks in his bag to ensure a bill he cared about and helped sponsor made it to the full Senate.

McCain was determined to make sure the bill saw the light of day before the full Senate, even if it meant he had to act less than presidential to do so--which I guess would put it near Senator level.

The Committee began to debate the merits of McCain's bill. As the debate continued, more and more amendments were added to the bill. Then came the decided moment of the day.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., proposed an amendment that would have struck McCain's language from the bill. The committee was deadlocked in its vote, but one senator was missing.

Ted Stevens, a senator from Alaska was unable to make the Commerce meeting and tried to get his written vote in support of Ensign's amendment, but it arrived too late. Ensign tried to get the vote delayed until Stevens could be present, but that effort too fell short.

After the meeting McCain was quoted as saying that Ensign's amendment would have "gutted the legislation."

So where was Stevens?

The senator from Alaska was busy in meetings with Secretary of State Colin Powell. McCain must have gotten his feathers ruffled over the fact that Stevens--who has a great deal of constituents in the military--found it more important to visit with Powell than attend the Commerce Committee meeting.

McCain's antics didn't end there either. Sen. John Breaux, D-La., amended to add the Leach Bill (which would prohibit Internet gambling-related financial transactions) onto McCain's bill.

Common knowledge knew that Breaux's amendment would decrease the chances of the bill getting out of the full Senate, and of course McCain couldn't have that.

Before voting on the bill McCain made Breaux promise that his amendment would be dropped if Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm raised a point of order. Under Senate guidelines Gramm could raise the point of order on grounds that the amendment falls under the Banking Committee's jurisdiction and not the Commerce Committee.

Gramm used the ploy last year, so McCain wanted to make sure the amendment wouldn't hold up the process.

McCain may have gotten what he wanted last week, but he may not get his bill past the full Senate. Ensign, a Republican, and Harry Reid, a Democrat, showed a bipartisan effort in getting senators from both parties to oppose the bill. Their efforts nearly killed the bill while it was in committee, and it's safe to think that once their efforts hit the full Senate the same results can be accomplished. Factor in McCain's popularity level in his own party--which remains very low for someone coming off of a presidential campaign--and the bill faces a united front of opposition.

Deals in smoke-filled rooms are one thing, but acting like a child who wants to prove his Big Wheel is bigger and better than the other kids on the block shouldn't be done on Capitol Hill.

With Senators forgetting to check their egos at the door it's a wonder anything gets done in Washington.

But then again, America is the same place that took several weeks to figure out who the next President was, and he didn't get the majority of votes.

Only in America.

Nobody knows where Kevin Smith came from. He simply showed up one day and started writing articles for IGN. We liked him, so we decided to keep him. We think you'll like him too. Kevin can be reached at kevin@igamingnews.com.