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Russ Feingold, Ninja

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For years, we've all been clamoring for progressive leadership. At a very minimum, we wanted liberals to cast aside their self-loathing and join the battle.

For a while now, we've seen a few heroes emerge. First, Howard Dean stood up and loudly proclaimed his belief that the emperor lacked clothes. Most recently, Alan Grayson has shown the courage of our convictions, even to the point of telling Dick Cheney to STFU.

Of course, for all that time, there was Russ Feingold, voting against the PATRIOT Act, war in Iraq, confirmation of shitty judges and all the rest. And two days ago, I found out he does the little things that never show up on your TV.

I got wind of a republican/Chamber of Commerce press conference and decided to cover it for StarkReports. (aside: I had some interesting questions for the Chamber's EVP of Gov. Affair, Bruce Josten). The presser was called to ask the Senate to kill the health care reform bill that's working its way through the process. Mitch McConnel, John Cornyn, Lamar Alexander and Chuck Grassley and Mr. Josten each took a turn blasting the bill. One of their overriding criticisms was that the bill didn't do enough to contain costs.

After the presser ended, I filtered out into the lobby area with the rest of the reporters. And there was Russ Feingold, available to give the progressive side of the story.

I can't be sure this wasn't a coincidence, but honestly, when it comes to politics, I'm not a big believer in accidents. Feingold knew that if there wasn't someone there to offer the progressive point of view, only god knows how many stories would be written pushing the Chamber's distorted claptrap. To me, as a progressive, that is exactly the kind of leadership and commitment I want from my progressive Senators and Representatives. It's not always about going on TV; the little things matter too.

If the story ended there, we could all go home smiling a little bit more broadly, knowing we had someone in the Senate that had our backs. But the story doesn't end there; it gets better.

I was able to ask a question of the Senator, and I chose to give him the opportunity to rebut the Chamber's central argument concerning cost containment.

Feingold took the question and knocked it out of the park:

For those that are YouTube challenged, he basically said that the Chamber was right about the lack of cost containment, and that is exactly why he is so concerned about anything that would weaken the bill's inclusion of a robust public option. I think we can all feel pretty safe that's not what the Chamber was looking for...