Phoning it in

Angry over the notion of a five-day workweek in Congress, a GOP representative says he can work from home via BlackBerry.

Topics: War Room, Steny Hoyer, D-Md.,

Memo to members of the Armed Services: The next time you get word that your unit has been called up for more service in Iraq, why not ask if you can stay at home and fulfill your duties by BlackBerry instead?

Hey, it’s good enough for Republican Rep. Jack Kingston.

Kingston, who complained earlier this week that Steny Hoyer’s plan for a five-day congressional workweek will make families like his “suffer,” now says that members of Congress don’t really need to be in Congress much to get their jobs done.

“The idea that we only work when we are in Washington, D.C., is ridiculous,” Kingston tells Fox News. “When we’re back home, we’re visiting schools, we’re talking to groups, we’re meeting with constituents. We’re getting real information on the ground. We’re listening and we’re learning … With BlackBerrys, cell phones, you can stay in touch with what’s going on in Washington. But you know, when you’re back home with the real people, folks can grab you by the collar and say, ‘What in the heck did you guys do when you passed that bill?’”

Or didn’t pass that bill, as the case may be. Having been in session just 103 days this year, the current Congress will adjourn this week having failed to act on $463 billion in spending bills for the fiscal year that began two months ago.

Of course, Republicans in Congress aren’t the only ones who seem interested in phoning it in these days. As Linda Greenhouse reports in the New York Times today, the Supreme Court has taken about 40 percent fewer cases so far this year than last year — and the number of cases it decided last year, just 69, was the lowest in more than 50 years.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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