Coburn: U.S. attorneys scandal sort of like Anna Nicole Smith

At a hearing yesterday, Sen. Tom Coburn said the U.S. attorneys flap has been overblown -- and compared it to the media coverage of Anna Nicole Smith.

Published March 23, 2007 6:22PM (EDT)

One thing's for sure -- when combing through transcripts of Senate hearings, you never know what you're liable to find.

We were reading through the transcript of Thursday's hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which the committee voted to authorize subpoenas for White House political advisor Karl Rove, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and others, when we came upon the arguments of Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, a Republican.

"[I]f we voted today without trying to work with what [White House Counsel] Fred Fielding has offered, what we're saying is politics trumps policy," Coburn said. And, hey, agree with it or not, that's at least a reasonable point upon which to base an argument.

But we were, frankly, a little puzzled by where Coburn went next: specifically, a dead Playboy Playmate, Guess jeans model and reality show star.

Yes, Coburn evoked the memory of the late, much-lamented Anna Nicole Smith in order to argue against authorizing subpoenas.

"[I]f you're sitting out in the middle of this country and this becomes the topic du jour," Coburn said, "like Anna Nicole Smith for the last two months, which has sickened the American public but that's what the press has run with because it makes for a nice dirty story, what are we doing to our country?

"Not to impugn any motives, we ought to be thinking long term for our country. And this is not the constitutional crisis we're trying to make it. We can make it that, and we can take our eye off the ball of the real problems that face our country."

Want to read more of yesterday's hearing? We've posted an extended excerpt here.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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