08/06/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Henry Waxman Schooled On Restless Leg Syndrome (VIDEO)

As you may have heard, California Rep. Henry Waxman was released recently from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, having been admitted after fainting in his L.A. office. Waxman is on the mend, and we're glad he's doing okay. Sadly, the news is not so good for one of Waxman's health care reform talking points, which expired quietly on the air on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.

Seeking to make a point about pharmaceutical companies and how their relentless advertising places all sorts of free-range diagnoses into viewers' heads, Waxman attempted to use his own experience in the hospital, and a joke about "restless leg syndrome." Waxman was of the mind that he was talking about a pretend-disease. That did not go well!"

WAXMAN: Somebody said, "Why is your knee jerking?" And I thought I was making a joke, and I said, "Well, I have restless leg syndrome." Now, I don't think there is such a thing as restless leg syndrome. I'll probably hear from all those people who have it. But I thought that restless leg syndrome was a disease that was created by a drug company that wanted to sell a drug for the disease they had created. And I was making a joke. Well, when I got out of the hospital, I looked at my record, it said, "He claims to have restless leg syndrome." Well, I don't know if there is such a thing or not. I don't have it. But a lot of people start thinking they have medical problems because they've seen too many of these commercials. I don't think that's doing the public a lot of good. It's certainly making the drug companies richer, but it's not doing a lot of good for the public.

HOST: Let's hear from Scott on the Independent line, from Greenbackville, Virginia.

SCOTT: Uh, yes. Representative Waxman, good morning. As someone who does have restless leg syndrome...

WAXMAN: [Laughter]

SCOTT: ...I can tell you that it does exist.

WAXMAN: It does exist.

SCOTT: Oh, absolutely. It's a terrible thing. I had achieved that through a back injury.


SCHOOLED! Though it's worth pointing out that none of this changes how annoying those pharmaceutical commercials are, with their trippy cartoons and packs of wizened old men celebrating their boners in song and that one for Yaz that HuffPost Comedy Editor Alex Leo hates because of the terrible, awkward set up to a strained conversation about side-effects.


Waxman's restless leg syndrome talking point died peacefully, and was probably survived by a bunch of talking points on the over-prescription of selective seratonin reuptake inhibitors.

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