Daily Show Comedy Clips
May 28, 2003
Daily Show Clips And Other Articles About The Texas Democrat Walk Out

Update 6/17/03: There has been an important development in this story.

There are two parts: Part 1 from the May 13, 2003 broadcast and Part 2 from the May 14, 2003 broadcast.

The other articles and blog links below are just FYI in case you wish to learn more about what happened. I'm still trying to understand it completely myself, but it sure is fun to watch!

May 13, 2003 Broadcast:

Daily Show On The Texas Democrat Walk Out - Part 1 of 2 (Small - 7 MB)
Daily Show On The Texas Democrat Walk Out - Part 1 of 2 (Hi-Res - 93 MB)
Audio - Daily Show On The Texas Democrat Walk Out - Part 1 of 2 (MP3 - 4 MB)

May 14, 2003 Broadcast:

Daily Show On The Texas Democrat Walk Out - Part 2 of 2 (Small - 5 MB)
Daily Show On The Texas Democrat Walk Out - Part 2 of 2 (Hi-Res - 70 MB)
Audio - Daily Show On The Texas Democrat Walk Out - Part 2 of 2 (MP3 - 3 MB)

The Daily Show -- the best news on television.

Bid to Find Tex. Lawmakers Decried
Federal Workers Were Led to Believe They Were Looking for Downed or Lost Plane
By Christopher Lee for the Washington Post.

Over 50 Texas Democrats Remain on the Lam
By April Castro for the Associated Press.

Here is the full text of the article in case the link goes bad:
(the other article is included below this one)


Bid to Find Tex. Lawmakers Decried
Federal Workers Were Led to Believe They Were Looking for Downed or Lost Plane

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, May 16, 2003; Page A27

A Texas political battle turned into a matter of national security for a few hours this week when state officials enlisted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help track down more than 50 Democratic state lawmakers who had vanished from Austin.

The Democrats fled the state over the weekend, depriving House Speaker Tom Craddick, a Republican, of the quorum he needed to pass several controversial bills, including one that would redraw Texas's congressional districts in favor of the GOP. On Monday, Craddick and other Republicans dispatched state troopers to round up the legislative fugitives and bring them back to the Texas Capitol.

State police officials, in turn, called in federal help as they pursued a rumor that Rep. James E. "Pete" Laney, a former Texas House speaker, had ferried fellow Democrats out of state aboard his Piper turboprop airplane. A state investigator called the Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Center in Riverside, Calif., part of the Homeland Security Department, to ask officials there to use their nationwide radar network to help locate the plane.

The call from the unnamed investigator came as an "urgent plea," describing a plane with state officials aboard that was overdue, according to a statement issued yesterday by the Homeland Security Department's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"We got a problem, and I hope you can help me out," the statement quoted the officer as saying. "We had a plane that was supposed to be going from Ardmore, Okla., to Georgetown, Tex. It had state representatives on it, and we cannot find this plane."

Believing they had an emergency on their hands, agency officials called the Federal Aviation Administration in Fort Worth, and airport officials in two other Texas cities, but were unable to find the plane.

"When law enforcement calls us asking for assistance in locating an aircraft that may be missing or lost or downed, it's certainly an appropriate response to try to locate that aircraft," said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for the bureau. "We take these statements at face value."

In fact, there was no plane. Most of the Democrats had taken buses to Ardmore, where they holed up in a hotel. They were expected to stay there until at least midnight last night -- the deadline for new bills to be brought to the House floor.

The only thing in jeopardy was the GOP legislative agenda.

Democrats in Washington seized on the episode yesterday after the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Dallas Morning News reported on the incident this week. Several vented their outrage on the House floor yesterday. They accused Craddick and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), the chief proponent of the redistricting plan, of misusing their official powers for political ends. They said both Republicans had turned to the Justice Department as well as to Homeland Security for help.

"Not since Richard Nixon and Watergate 30 years ago has anyone tried to use law enforcement agencies of the federal government for domestic political purposes," Rep. Martin Frost (D-Tex.), a longtime foe of DeLay in redistricting battles, said in an interview. "This is an abuse of criminal- and terrorist-fighting resources of the U.S. government for a domestic political matter. . . . There should be a complete investigation."

Rep. Jim Turner (Tex.), ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, said it was "deeply disturbing" that federal resources were diverted to try to track down Laney, who, in a show of bipartisanship, had introduced George W. Bush before the president-elect gave a speech after the Supreme Court settled the outcome of the 2000 election.

"We created the Department of Homeland Security to track down terrorists, not law-abiding citizens," Turner said.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, joined eight other House Democrats yesterday in asking the acting inspector general at Homeland Security to investigate what happened.

"If true, this report represents a shameful diversion of taxpayer resources for partisan purposes," the lawmakers wrote to Clark Kent Irvin.

DeLay spokesman Jonathan Grella said DeLay did not seek federal help in forcing the Democrats back to Austin. DeLay did pass along to the Justice Department Craddick's inquiry on whether federal law enforcement could assist in the manhunt, Grella said.

"We've had no contact with Homeland or the FBI," said Grella, who asserted that Democrats were trying to detract attention from their "shirking" of their legislative duties in Austin.

"This is a smoke screen," Grella said. "[W]e certainly are disappointed that they've resorted to flat-out lying to hold on to power."

A spokesman for Craddick, who became speaker this year after Republicans won control of the House for the first time since Reconstruction, said Craddick did not tell the state police to seek federal help.

"He called them [state police] in and let them do their job," said Bob Richter, the spokesman. "There was an effort made to find out if they could get some federal help in that. It was either turned down, or they found out they couldn't do it. By the end of the day Monday, it was a dead issue [because the lawmakers were found]. . . . I think Craddick is getting credit for a lot of things other people did. He may have said, 'Let's do what we can to find them.' "

Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, said it was routine to seek federal assistance. "We feel that we conducted a thorough and professional investigation," he said.

Richter said Craddick just wants the Democrats to come back and has acknowledged that the House will not take up the redistricting bill this session, which ends June 2. "He's repeatedly said there's not going to be retaliation," Richter said. "He wants to get back to business and salvage what we can."

Late yesterday, the Associated Press reported that Democrats declared victory and posed for a photograph at the Holiday Inn in Ardmore. "Now that we have been able to kill redistricting, we are able to go back and finish the business of this state," state Rep. Craig Eiland said.

Here is the full text of the article (below) in case the link goes bad:


Over 50 Texas Democrats Remain on the Lam

Tuesday May 13, 2003 6:59 PM


Associated Press Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Three Democrats returned to the Capitol on Tuesday, but more than 50 remained on the lam in Oklahoma, frustrating Republican efforts to push through a plan to redraw the state's congressional districts.

The rebellious Democrats were holed up at a hotel in Ardmore, Okla. They sneaked out of Austin on Sunday after spending several days discussing ways to derail a GOP plan to redraw the districts that seeks to increase the number of Republican seats.

With 58 Democrats gone on Monday, the 150-member House was unable to muster the two-thirds quorum needed to conduct business. House Speaker Tom Craddick called the House to order Tuesday morning but even with the return of three Democrats, there still were enough missing to block any House business.

The three returning Democrats were welcomed back into the House chamber with hugs and supportive words from their Republican colleagues. One Democrat, Rep. Helen Giddings, fought back tears as she stated her desire to stop the redistricting plan.

The defiant Democrats in Oklahoma said they would stay away until Republicans agreed to drop the redistricting plan.

"It's totally up to Craddick, and he has been so advised," one of the Democrats told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity. "If he'll get redistricting off the calendar, we'll be right there bright and early."

Craddick said he was not interested in negotiating.

Republicans constructed signs and gimmicks ridiculing their colleagues. They plastered the Democrats' faces on milk cartons, and state Republican chair Susan Weddington, borrowing from the "most wanted Iraqi" cards, announced she had playing cards featuring the missing legislators.

House rules allow state troopers to arrest lawmakers and bring them back to the Capitol. On Monday, Craddick had ordered troopers to find the missing lawmakers, arrest them and bring them back to Austin. Several agents arrived at the Democrats' hotel in Ardmore on Monday night but they did not have jurisdiction outside of Texas and did not have a warrant issued by Oklahoma authorities.

Instead, the troopers asked the legislators to board their aircraft and return home, but the lawmakers refused.

The capped months of tension between Democrats and the newly-in-control Republicans.

"They're legislative terrorists and their leaving today is a weapon of mass obstruction, blocking hundreds of pieces of legislation," Republican Rep. Dan Branch said Monday.

The Democrats said they were taking a stand for fair treatment of the minority party. They said U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, had pushed the Texas House to take up the issue of congressional redistricting instead of more pressing matters, such as the state budget.

"There are some issues that are important to us, important to all Texans," Rep. Pete Gallego said.

The state already has a court-drawn redistricting map, but Republicans say it doesn't match state voting trends and want to redo the plan. Their proposal could add five to seven GOP House seats to the 15 already in Republican hands. The state has 32 members in the U.S. House.

Redistricting had been scheduled on the House calendar for Monday. The deadline for preliminarily votes on House bills is Thursday or they risk dying for the session, which ends June 2.

The Texas House cannot convene without at least 100 of the 150 members present. The body has 88 Republicans and 62 Democrats. Four Democrats had stayed behind and the whereabouts of four others were not known.

The missing Democratic lawmakers spent Monday in a hotel conference room, where large sheets of paper taped to the walls were used as makeshift chalkboards and long tables were filled with laptop computers, stacks of papers and notebooks.

They said they discussed school financing, homeowners insurance and other issues.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry lambasted the Democrats for deserting the Legislature, saying "we might as well shut this building down and let it become a museum because the work of the people is through."

The Republicans and the few Democrats who were left milled around. Some left the chamber and were elsewhere in the Capitol. They weren't be required to stay on the House floor Tuesday as they had all day Monday.

Craddick said Perry assured him he would call a special session after the regular session if it's needed.

The walkout came 24 years to the month since a group of 12 Texas state senators defied then-Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby by refusing to show up at the Capitol.

Some of the "Killer Bees," as the 12 Democrats came to be known, hid out in a west Austin garage apartment while troopers, Texas Rangers and legislative sergeants-at-arms unsuccessfully combed the state for them.


On the Net:


Posted by Lisa at May 28, 2003 09:26 AM | TrackBack
Me A to Z (A Work In Progress)

I think of this as an interesting wild cat strike!

Posted by: Mark on May 28, 2003 10:09 PM

In Re: Democrat walk-outs

It is oh so very interesting that the very party that shamelessly bares the name which represents the idea that so many have fought and died defending.

Has used so many cowardly political tactics, such as walking out rather than standing and arguing the merits of their position.

How could any of those who have conducted them selves in this manner honestly call them selves,"A fighter for the rights of the people."

It really comes down to one point; If the Democrats have a chance of losing the vote on a bill they're not going to stand and fight it out in our congress and legislatures.

With that type of representation we might as well not have a multi-party system.

Because it becomes obvious that rather than articulating the need for differences they are abandoning the opportunity.


A former member of the Democrat party.

Posted by: David on July 10, 2003 12:45 PM

Id rather go for something else.

Posted by: Dan on April 28, 2004 05:41 AM
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