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Midsummer Madness

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

ATLANTA -- It has to be the heat. A severe outbreak of global warming disorder, or GWD, among Washington's elite is the only possible explanation for the strange behavior of so many power brokers.

Temperatures in Washington were so high this week that White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, perhaps suffering from dehydration, had a brief moment of lucid candor. During an interview with the newspaper The Hill, Gibbs took a page from Sean Hannity's playbook and castigated the "professional left" for criticizing President Barack Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan and his unfulfilled pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility. "I hear," Gibbs said, "these people saying he's like George (W.) Bush. Those people ought to be drug tested. I mean, it's crazy."

Unfortunately, Gibbs did not clarify whether he believes there is some connection between drug use and mental instability. He did note, however, what it will take to bring Obama's backers back into the fold: "They will be satisfied when we have Canadian health care and we've eliminated the Pentagon."

This is, of course, the same Robert Gibbs who famously forecast during last month's record-breaking heat wave, "There are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control" of the House of Representative in the November elections. Understandably irritated by the prospect of losing her perks and privileges, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplayed Gibbs' efforts to keep the Democratic base home from the polls and told CNN, "I don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about what the president's employees say about one thing or another."

Apparently uncertain about how effective these comments might be at alienating fellow Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was forced by high temperatures in Nevada to take matters into his own hands -- or mouth. During a campaign event in Las Vegas this week, the liberal icon boldly told supporters, "I don't know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK? Do I need to say more?" Nope.

Reid's racial slur might have been excused as a case of GWD-induced heatstroke, except someone remembered the majority leader's saying in 2008 that Obama benefited from his "light-skinned" appearance and his ability to turn his "Negro dialect" on and off. Since making his most recent bigoted comment, Sen. Reid has lost the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and been introduced to congressional Republican colleagues Sen. Mel Martinez and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, as well as Senate candidate Marco Rubio. He also has been reminded that the slogan "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" really isn't true. It's just heated rhetoric.

There has been a lot of that on Capitol Hill this week, even though Congress is supposedly in recess. Both the House and Senate had to come back to the sweltering swamp this week to vote on unfinished business. In their haste to get out of the broiling temps, nobody noticed a $600 million "border security bill," approved first in the Senate and then by the House, actually violated procedures mandated by Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution: "All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." Just blame it on the heat.

One should be thankful that the "special session" was a great opportunity for Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., the venerable legislator facing 13 ethics charges. He braved stifling temperatures to stroll into the well of the House of Representatives and exercise a "point of personal privilege." After telling his cronies, "I am not going away; I am here," they applauded. Perhaps it was too hot for those who were clapping to have read the most recent polls showing 78 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing.

Rangel and his colleague Rep. Maxine Waters -- also facing corruption charges -- have asked for public hearings in September. Perhaps things will have cooled off in Washington by then.

At least the pressure cooker temps aren't bothering the first lady. Michelle Obama -- and a bevy of pals -- escaped Potomac Fever and growing lines of unemployed Americans by taking a delightful summer sojourn in Spain. The White House, ever sensitive to photos of Mrs. Obama sightseeing with European royalty while Americans can't afford to run their air conditioners, was quick to point out that the first fam will be taking "a real vacation" later this month -- at Martha's Vineyard. Just like the rest of us.

Those of us who cannot afford to jet-set around Europe or hobnob with the rich and famous in the style of the Kennedys do have an outlet: the summer Freedom Concerts with Sean Hannity. Here in Atlanta -- despite a deeply troubled economy, stifling heat and being in the epicenter of the Jane Fonda Network -- thousands of our countrymen have turned out to hear some great patriotic music and support our troops. For those who think it's hot here, it was 107 degrees in Afghanistan's Helmand province today. And over there, Americans go to work in flak jackets and helmets.

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