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Election '06: The Boob Tubes Find a New Boob

07/18/2006 01:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As the Fall elections near, political parties have long-since begun making the case for having control of the federal government.

The White House and Karl Rove want campaigns to focus on Staying the Course. "Vote Republican: We'll Do for America What We've Done in Iraq!"

Democrats, with so much more to choose from, have instead blended a panoply of issues - from the Iraq War, to losing an American city, a foreign policy breakdown to world safety and the many domestic policy disasters. But all that can become a bit overwhelming. It's like going to a gourmet buffet and only getting two plates.

Finally, however, one simple, core reason has cropped up and stands out above all why voters should put the federal government in the hands of Democrats:

Ted Stevens.

By now, many have heard the explanation of the Internet given by Senator Stevens (R-Mars) on June 28. The senator should be the centerpiece of the Democratic campaign to regain the government, not because his words on Net Neutrality and telecom regulation were so utterly devoid of lucidity - but because, while saying it, Senator Stevens is Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Remember, as you read his words, this is the man in charge.

"I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

"Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

"...They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

"It's a series of tubes.

"And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."

(The whole rambling speech is actually 12 minutes and too scary for most humans. Or aliens. Nervous telecom apologists insist he is a brilliant Internet tactician just using analogies. The breathtaking audio shows otherwise.)

Okay, anyone can get befuddled. Everybody has had a bad day. Or just a really bad 12 minutes. The only time it's genuinely fair to hold someone up to abject ridicule is when they meet the following criteria.

1) They say inexplicably foolish things.
2) They angrily lecture others.
3) They are in charge.

Check, check, check.

That Ted Stevens is 85 years old is not an excuse. My mother is nearing that milestone and has trouble figuring out the phone answering machine. She not only doesn't have an email account (or "an internet," as the senator-in-charge puts it), she's never used a computer. And yet she would never describe the Internet as a series of tubes.

What the senator said, at length, is not defensible. This crosses party lines. Anyone who tries to excuse what Ted Steven said, or ignores it and starts pointing finger elsewhere, is not part of the equation. Go stand off in a corner and make up stories amongst yourselves while sentient beings discuss reality. This is the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, overseeing this critical issue of the Internet... and he can't coherently explain what email is, describes the Internet as tubes, is unable to explain Netflix and misses the entire point of the Defense Department's secure system. (Listen to the full speech.)

And he's in charge.

And here's the deal: the reason he's in charge is because the Republicans control the Senate. (And every committee.) If the Democrats controlled the Senate, Ted Stevens would no longer be in charge. Forget all the many other unconscionable things Ted Stevens has done - refusing to permit oil executives to testify under oath, or taking $453 million in post-Katrina aid to build two bridges in Alaska, including the "Bridge to Nowhere." Forget all that and more, which is a lot to forget.

Because this is related directly to his being in charge. And this impacts directly the lives of anyone in the United States who uses the Internet. (read: everyone, except my mother).

Oh, sure, other issues for the Democrats are significantly more critical. (Not that that's essential. Honestely, does anyone think flag burning and gay marriage are actually critical to Republicans?)

But this - this is undebatable. There's no "On the other hand..." here. This is something everyone gets: if the Democrats regain control of the government, the bewildering Ted Stevens will no longer be in charge of the Senate Commerce Committee and all that it controls in your life.

Now, go fire up the tubes, and send an internet to spread the word.