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Patt Morrison

Patt Morrison

Posted January 12, 2009 | 11:52 PM (EST)

''Mathman'' McConnell Goes Wild!


I suppose twice isn't exactly a pattern, but twice, now, in the past couple of weeks, the Senate minority leader, Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, has obligingly dropped doozies the way California avocado trees drop pre-guacamole bombs.

First, it was when McConnell, contemplating a bailout of the auto industry, pontificated thusly: "Republicans will not allow taxpayers to subsidize failure." At the time I wondered whether ''Iraq'' rang a very expensive bell for him.

Now he's grousing about the Obama rescue package, and how his party is, so, relevant to the process. After all, he declared, "Senate Republicans represent half the population."

That sure didn't sound right. Senate Republicans aren't even half of the Senate, a body which is weighted to empower sparsely populated states. Los Angeles County alone has more people than all but maybe a dozen states.

So I totted up the numbers. First, I listed all the Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Next, I listed the populations of the states they represent. Then I added up those numbers. Arizona, for example -- two Republican senators, state population about six and a half million people. (If a state had only one Republican Senator, I added half of that state's population.)

As it turns out, Senator McConnell seems to have forgotten basic math, or discarded it as easily as he's forgotten Iraq. Because by my rather kindly count -- and I did not count Minnesota's Senate seat for either party -- I figure that Senate Republicans represent about 115 million Americans.

That's not remotely ''half.'' That is, in fact, a bit less than one third of the nation's total population.

Is the Senator posturing, in which case he needs to have his knuckles smartly rapped on his math-defying whopper? Or does he truly believe, wrongly, that Senate Republicans truly represent half the country's population?

And if that is the case, my question is, do we really want a man who can't -- or won't -- count properly when it comes to mere millions deciding on how to spend hundreds of billions?