Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., is playing a merry prankster on the floor of the House of Representatives this week to highlight the refusal of the Democratic majority to repeal on a federal ban on off-shore oil drilling. It's a little out of character for the normally straightlaced congressman but perhaps explained by the vigorous election challenge Shadegg faces at home this fall.
As noted in published media accounts and by Shadegg himself in e-mails to his supporters, the congressmen is one of several Republicans who aren't leaving Washington for the August recess but instead are returning to an empty House floor each day to "debate" national energy policy. Shadegg says the group won't relent until House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., brings everyone back to vote for oil exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf.
On Friday, Pelosi started the five-week recess by ordering the House lights, microphones and cameras shut off. But Shadegg punched in several computer codes until he figured out how to turn the microphones back on. Then, Pelosi told media in the press gallery to leave. But Shadegg ran upstairs and held forth for the reporters, triggering an obscure rule that allowed the media to ignore Pelosi's directive.
It's all grandstanding, of course. But at least Shadegg is showing off, and getting widespread attention, for a cause that lot of Americans now understand would be the right course.