Aisle Hogs ’12: Changing of the guard

Tonight marks the last hurrah for a little-known congressman with a peerless knack for securing choice seating VIDEO

Topics: War Room,

Aisle Hogs '12: Changing of the guardPresident Clinton shakes hands with Rep. Dale Kildee at the State of the Union Address, January 19, 1999. (Credit: Reuters/Win McNamee)

As soon as the sergeant-at-arms announces Barack Obama’s arrival in the House chamber Tuesday night, you might want to pay extra-close attention to your television screen: It will probably be your last chance to catch the dean of the Aisle Hogs in action.

Rep. Dale Kildee, an 82-year-old Michigan Democrat who has represented the Flint area since 1976, is retiring from the House at the end of this year, making this the final State of the Union address he’ll attend. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of him, but if you’re a regular State of the Union viewer, then you’ve probably seen him — or at least the back of his head. Every year, without fail, Kildee arrives early — very, very early — to claim a choice spot along the center aisle, putting himself in position to greet the president as he makes his way to the front of the chamber.

Kildee is hardly the only House member to take advantage of the first-come, first-served seating policy for presidential speeches, but as best we can tell he’s been at it longer than any of his colleagues. In advance of last year’s State of the Union, Salon came up with a name for this peculiar subspecies of congressperson: Aisle Hogs.

Our idea was to identify the members who are most dogged about grabbing a nationally televised second of the president’s time on what is one of biggest nights of the year in politics. The process was thoroughly and admittedly unscientific. We looked back through C-Span’s online archive of the 10 previous State of the Unions and were entirely at the mercy of the random camera shots that were used for each year’s presidential entrance. Frequent cutaways to the first lady in the balcony or to the House speaker and vice president on the dais surely allowed an Aisle Hog or two to escape detection. Still, we felt confident that the five Aisle Hogs we settled on were all worthy of the title: Kildee, Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich, New York’s Eliot Engel and Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois.



Sure enough, when Barack Obama stepped onto the center aisle last January, he was almost immediately greeted by Kucinich — and then Kildee, and then Engel and then Jackson Lee. So as we sat down to prepare our new Aisle Hog list for the 2012 State of the Union, their spots were secure. But we didn’t spot Jesse Jackson Jr. last year, and while it’s possible he was hiding along the aisle in plain sight, competition for Aisle Hog status is intense. So Jackson is off the new list and replace by (drumroll) … Rep. Todd Platts of Pennsylvania.

A moderate Republican now serving his sixth term, Platts is an accomplished Aisle Hog, a fact that was brought to our attention by his local newspaper, the York Daily Record, after our 2011 list appeared. Platts actually wasn’t on the aisle last year, but a review of the C-Span archive finds that he was there just about every year before then. He told the Record’s Mike Argento last year that he would secure his spot by leaving a folder on an aisle seat early in the day. Platts recently announced that he won’t seek reelection this year, and because of his past contributions to the form, we’re happy to announce that he’ll spend his final year in office as an official Salon Aisle Hog.

We also have our eye on a possible successor to Platts for next year: Republican Rep. Jean Schmidt of Ohio, who won her seat in a 2005 special election and who has been on the aisle for at least the past four State of the Unions. If she’s there again on Tuesday night, her candidacy to replace Platts will be a virtual slam dunk.

And then there’s the matter of Kildee, who will ride off into the sunset — and to a near-certain first ballot induction into the Aisle Hog Hall of Fame — at the end of the year. We asked his office if he had any parting words, but didn’t hear back.

Kildee’s exit means the Aisle Hogs will have a new dean in 2013, and it will probably be Engel, a 64-year-old New Yorker who came to the House in 1993. Barring a redistricting surprise in his home state, Engel, who is easily recognizable with his glasses and mustache (which Stephen Colbert once asked for the honor of combing), will have no trouble winning reelection this fall. When he appeared on last year’s list, the New York Observer asked Engel for his reaction. “Now what’s happening is that people look for me,” he told the paper. “If I wasn’t there people would think I was sick or something. I want my constituents to know that I am well.”

And with that, we present the official Salon list of Congress’s top five Aisle Hogs for 2012:

Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.); 82, first elected 1976

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), 64, first elected 1992

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), 62, first elected 1994

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), 65, first elected 1996

Rep. Todd Platts (R-Pa.), 49, first elected 2000

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), 60, first elected 2005 (alternate)

* * *

And here’s the video we produced last year showing the Aisle Hog class of ’11 in action:

Steve Kornacki

Steve Kornacki writes about politics for Salon. Reach him by email at SKornacki@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @SteveKornacki

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>