Paul Jacob

'Tis been the season of presents, rewards, awards. Now political awards?

Often, awards in politics are suspect. I remember the local pol who won an award as a champion of something-or-other. A bit later, it came out that the group awarding the politician was founded and run by ? you guessed it ? that same politician.

As you'll see, my awards don't work that way.

The Biggest Hypocrite Award

Awards for hypocrisy are always the most competitive. Of course, members of Congress have long dominated the winner's circle, and this year was no exception.

Runner-Up: Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland

In July, Hoyer condemned House Republican leaders for holding floor votes open ? when GOP leaders were losing ? until they had twisted enough arms, i.e., dangled enough district pork or campaign cash, to change a losing vote into a winning one.

Hoyer said Republicans were "running roughshod over the most basic principles of democracy." Adding that, "These back-alley tactics have no place in the greatest deliberative body in the world."

Republicans countered that Democrats did the same thing when they controlled the House. So, Hoyer was asked a simple question: Was he saying Democrats would behave differently if they gained the majority in the House?

"I am not," said Hoyer.

First Place: Congressman Charles Rangel of New York.

Rangel spent the whole year blabbering on the television about his bill to reinstate the military draft. Then when it came up to a vote, he voted AGAINST his own bill. Actually, it is likely Charley's best vote ever. A draft is wrong and destructive. But, it was his bill. To cinch the award, Rangel accused the GOP leadership of being "hypocritical" and "playing politics" with the legislation.

Now that's congressional experience for you! Rangel, the 34-year veteran, wins hands down.

Best Junket Explanation Award

Politicians like free vacations. But, how to explain?

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.