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Legislators or Lyrical Workers?

10:00 AM, Apr 10, 2011 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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House Democrats, in their depleted numbers and minority status, probably felt left out of this week's tense budget battle in Congress. Former House speaker and minority leader Nancy Pelosi even left town Friday. So perhaps fellow Democratic congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland felt like she had an opportunity to get House Democrats some attention, as well as some much-needed hipster cred, by quoting lyrics from a White Stripes tune on the House floor:

As a big fan of the garage rock duo from Detroit, I'm left feeling a bit underwhelmed by Edwards's rendition. True, she hits all the lyrics right, but there's just something about the delivery that's lacking. After all, the original White Stripes version is bluesy fun you can bob your head to. Edwards, meanwhile, just doesn't pull off the Shatner-esque spoken word shtick. Besides, if we're talking effect and cause, let's not forget that it was congressional Democrats last session who failed to pass a budget for 2011.

Believe it or not, this isn't the only "legislator speaking lyrics to pop song" story this week. Lawmakers in Oregon pulled off a feat of sorts by saying individual lines from the 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley in their floor speeches. (The song gained a resurgence in popularity a few years ago during the Rickroll Internet craze.) The enterprising legislator who orchestrated the "prank," state representative Jefferson Smith, strung the lines together into a video he posted--where else?--on YouTube. He said the purpose was to break the tension in the evenly split Oregon house of representatives. The prank did take some work:

The hard part was the organization. Not only did the mass Rickroll have to take place during a normal floor session of the house, where representatives' speeches are videotaped for public records, but the lines had to be divvied out accordingly and spaced far enough so people wouldn't catch on to the joke.

And, of course, the lines had to make sense in the context of the lawmakers' speeches. "There are some easy lines in there to say without getting noticed. 'You're never gonna' is easy. 'I just wanna tell you how I'm feeling' is easy. But an 'ooh?' That's tricky," admitted Smith.

What will our elected officials think of next?

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