John McCaslin

It was almost like an episode of "Dr. Phil." One after another, a dozen members of Congress walked up to the House lectern this week and confessed their sins to the American people.

"My wife, Niki, and I had been married a year, and we were struggling. I had been through several broken marriages, several episodes of broken relationships and financial problems because I had been living for myself. I'd been living a prideful, sinful, self-centered lifestyle," said Rep. Paul C. Broun Jr., Georgia Republican.

"I am a changed man; I am a new man. I don't have the same friends I used to have. I don't walk the same way; I don't talk the same way," said Rep. Bobby L. Rush, Illinois Democrat.

The purpose of the unusual exercise was to encourage Americans to read the Bible during National Bible Week, the National Bible Association's signature event celebrated the week before Thanksgiving every year since 1941.

It's worth noting, meanwhile, that it was a certain goofy-looking gentleman who sports fans often spotted in the background during nationally televised sporting events from previous decades that caused Mr. Broun, a medical doctor by profession, to pick up a Bible and read it. The man and his familiar sign, he said, changed his life.

"I was watching a professional football game," Mr. Broun said, "and as the cameras panned the crowd, there was a banner hanging over a railing up in the stands. And the big banner was there. The gentleman had this big rainbow-type of hair wig on, and the banner said 'John 3:16.' At that time, it piqued my interest. I asked my wife, Niki, what John 3:16 said, and she didn't know. She wasn't raised in a religious household, either. We didn't even have a Bible in our home to find out."

'Vapid pablum'

It's been a tough, soul-searching, emotional couple of weeks for Rep. Pete Stark, California Democrat, who made headlines after apologizing for suggesting that President Bush was sending U.S. troops to Iraq to get their "heads blown off for his amusement."

"I want to apologize first of all to my colleagues, many of whom I have offended, to the president, his family, to the troops," he announced on the House floor. "With this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be, and we can return to the issues that do divide us but that we can resolve."

He then walked to the side of the chamber and for five minutes stood and wept.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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