| So it's not exactly a secret that most Americans don't have a positive view of Congress. Recent polling is showing approval in the twenties, with strong disapproval over 50%. Some have called for the complete and utter overhaul of the legislative bodies.
Which is why I make the following modest proposal.
Why don't we replace all 100 members of the Senate with celebrities and famous people? That oughta reduce the bickering and get stuff done right? Yes, in this diary, that is exactly what I'm going to do.
Now of course, there are some minor rule changes, like the constitutional age limit. I've done away with that, and since most celebrities live in a cluster of a few states and big cities mostly, when necessary we will also use their childhood homes and birth states as a substitute for proper residency. In general, I have aligned the partisan breakdown for electability reasons, though there are some senators that are questionable. They'll probably jump out at you as we go along.
Some celebrities are very outspoken about politics, while others are not. I had to do a lot of digging, and even some guesswork on some of them. If you notice I've gotten one wrong, be sure to point it out in the comments. I have compiled below, what I think is a 57 Democrat, 41 Republican, 2 Independent body, just like the Senate we have today. Enjoy!
Maine - Stephen King (D-Portland), Joan Benoit (R-Cape Elizabeth) - Maine is a somewhat democratic state but is one that likes moderate republicans, particularly those that are female. But I think a liberal can win here. Stephen King, the extraordinary author, is an outspoken liberal that supports most mainstream Dem positions. Joan Benoit, the 1984 olympic marathon champion, her views are a little tougher to uncover, but I think she's a moderate that would probably caucus with the R's. She'd be a gettable vote on many issues though, similar to Olympia Snowe.
New Hampshire - Seth Meyers (D-Bedford), Sarah Silverman (D-Bedford) - New Hampshire, in particular the town of Bedford, is very big on comedic talent. The state's leftward lean lately makes it possible that 2 democrats could take the delegation, and who better than Meyers and Silverman, who are both liberal stalwarts. Silverman is jewish as well, which helps balance religious demographics.
Vermont - Jim Cantore (D-White River Junction), Lindsey Jacobellis (D-Stratton) - I had to do some digging on this one, as there is a fair lack of famous people from Vermont. Jim Cantore, the famed meteorologist of the Weather Channel, known by some in hurricane alley as "the angel of death" whenever he shows up on their coast, is a solid choice. He's a bit moderate by Vermont standards, but fairly reliable. I went with snowboarder & winter Olympian Lindsey Jacobellis on the other seat, and she's pretty much a down the line vote on everything democratic.
Massachusetts - Conan O'Brien (D-Brookline), Uma Thurman (D-Boston) - This is probably one of the most liberal delegations in the Senate, as the outspoken O'Brien and the shapely Thurman both bring bonafide liberalism on most all issues. Really not a shock from a state that, outside of a rather large aberration last January, is extremely liberal.
Rhode Island - John Cafferty (D-Providence), Elisabeth Hasselbeck (R-Cranston) - I had a bit of trouble with this state, as there is a notable lack of famous people from RI. Here the republicans pick up one of their most conservative voices from an unusual spot. Hasselbeck, who once made the final 4 on Survivor, is extremely conservative. She's rather outspoken too, she'd probably be the Michelle Bachmann of the group. I was very close to declaring her unelectable, but with the huge lack of available candidates I let it go. John Cafferty, who is a personal friend of Bruce Springsteen and shares his love of music, is nearly as liberal as Hasselbeck is conservative, necessary in a blue state like RI.
Connecticut - Paul Levesque (R-Greenwich), Seth McFarlane (D-Kent) - With CT being home to World Wrestling Entertainment, I go to the wrassling well and come up with Paul Levesque, better known as Triple H. Probably the most politically astute member of WWE aside from John Bradshaw Layfield and Mick Foley, Levesque would be fairly conservative for this state but might be gettable on labor and working class issues due to WWE's horrific record there. Seth McFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, is a down the line liberal vote, one of the most liberal in the democratic caucus.
New York - Barbara Streisand (D-Brooklyn), Jennifer Lopez (D-Manhattan) - Streisand, one of the older members of the Senate, is a huge supporter of minorities and most things democratic. She hails from the NYC area and would be hugely popular with just about everybody there. I wanted to throw a younger person in to balance the delegation out, and J-Lo certainly fits that bill. As a Hispanic, she holds a seat for a minority group that I had some trouble with filling seats in this legislative body.
New Jersey - Bruce Springsteen (D-Asbury Park), Jon Bon Jovi (D-Perth Amboy) -This state was easy. Bruce is one of music's most famous people, and he's an outspoken democrat and fighter for the working class. He'd be a great voice in the Senate, and in this group would likely be right up there in the voting for majority leader. Jon Bon Jovi is almost a carbon copy of Bruce politically, and would be virtually identical in his voting record.
Pennsylvania - Taylor Swift (I-Wyomissing), Will Smith (D-Philadelphia) - Now this is a cool, hip pairing indeed. Taylor Swift, the 2nd youngest member of the Senate, is about as apolitical as they come and probably is still just feeling her way out as far as her political beliefs go. I didn't find any leanings in my research, so she enters the body as an Independent, which is fine since she hails from swingy Berks County anyway. Will Smith on the other hand, is a staunch liberal voice hailing from the most liberal part of the state. The actor/musician was a strong supporter of Barack Obama's 2008 campaign.
Maryland - Michael Phelps (D-Baltimore), Tom Clancy (R-Baltimore) - Arguably one of the most popular figures in Maryland, Phelps really keeps his leanings close to the vest and seems somewhat detached from the political process. Yet from what I have researched it seems that he leans democrat. How far he leans, that I don't know. My guess is that he could be somewhat independent/blue dog-ish. The other seat goes to author Tom Clancy, who is an outspoken conservative. Like fellow northeastern conservative hawk Elizabeth Hasselbeck, he barely skirts the line of electability. Arguably this is a bad delegation politically for MD, probably one of the least representative in the body.
Delaware - Johnny Weir (D-Newark), Valerie Bertinelli (D-Wilmington) - Admittedly, there are a bunch of Olympians in the Senate, but let's face it, Weir is a character. Although he's never come out about it, he's probably in the LGBT crowd, an obviously underrepresented group of American society. Politically, he matches the state, as does the other senator, actress Valerie Bertinelli. Bertinelli contributed to Barack Obama's 08 campaign and should be a down the line vote.
Virginia - Dave Matthews (D-Charlottesville), Sandra Bullock (R-Arlington) - Here's a fairly diverse and mixed pairing in a decidedly purple state. Matthews, an outspoken yet calm liberal voice, hails from the liberal hub of Charlottesville, while Bullock is from another liberal bastion, Arlington. The latter though, is generally wary of big government, which likely puts her into the R caucus despite her dedication to charitable causes and helping those in need. Yep, I can hear the chants of "RINO!" already.
North Carolina - Chris Paul (D-Winston-Salem), Jim Nantz (R-Charlotte) - Basketball is huge in North Carolina, so this delegation makes a lot of sense. Paul, the star point guard for the Hornets who is from NC and went to college there (at Wake Forest) is a solid liberal vote in a state with a large black population. The other senator, legendary CBS announcer Jim Nantz, will bring his rather eloquent tone to the legislative body. He's fairly conservative though, which balances the NC ticket.
South Carolina - Stephen Colbert (D-Charleston), Vanna White (R-Myrtle Beach) - South Carolina is very conservative, but if any democrat can penetrate it, it's Colbert. Hugely popular because of his nightly television program, he's perfect for this. The other seat goes to Vanna White, the mistress of the puzzleboard on Wheel of Fortune. GOPers, you're going to be sick of this by the end, Vanna is another of those pesky moderate female senators.
Georgia - Jeff Foxworthy (R-Atlanta), Herschel Walker (R-Wrightsville) - Probably one of the most conservative stalwarts in the Senate, comedian and show-host Foxworthy is a self-proclaimed redneck, and is noted for his place on the Blue Collar Comedy tour. He probably would be a good candidate for minority whip. The other seat goes to football star turned MMA freak Herschel Walker. He's a conservative African American, which in this day in age is almost an oxymoron. The GOP caucus is really getting a makeover!
Florida - Chris Evert (R-Boca Raton), Hulk Hogan (D-Tampa) - One of my goals here in compiling this list was to increase the amount of women and minorities in the republican caucus. Former tennis star Chris Evert fits that bill. As with many women republicans she would probably stray on women's rights issues and certain social issues, but elsewhere she'd be a down the line vote. The other seat goes to none other than Hulk Hogan, who much to my surprise, is actually a democrat. With the support of all those Hulkamaniacs, he'd be fit for a leadership position in the Dem caucus I think.
Alabama - Charles Barkley (R-Leeds), Nick Saban (R-Tuscaloosa) - This is another obvious pick, on both accounts. There is some concern that Charles could be a party switcher, as he's really mavericky in nature. He would certainly give us some great soundbites at least. In return for Charles's craziness, the other seat is held by a down the line conservative, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban. One of the most popular figures in the state, Saban would be one of the body's most conservative members.
Mississippi - Brett Favre (R-Kiln), Britney Spears (R-McComb) - Talk about a pair of divas. Mississippi's delegation is anchored by two conservative voices. Favre, I could've conceivably put in two other states, but he goes here for electability reasons, as something tells me that he wouldn't be welcome in either Wisconsin or Minnesota. My guess is that both Favre and Spears would be solid conservative votes on most issues.
Tennessee - Hank Williams Jr. (R-Memphis), Miley Cyrus (I-Nashville) - Tennessee is a conservative state in general, and the Senate gets one of it's most politically astute and conservative voices in Hank Williams Jr. The country singer of Monday Night Football fame was a huge supporter of John McCain's candidacy and would be extremely conservative. In the other seat we have Miley Cyrus, the body's 2nd Independent as well as the youngest member of the Senate. For some reason I really thought Miley was republican, but actually she's about the least political person in the whole world. Come to think of it, she might really hate this job. Maybe it's not too late to get Billy Ray on the hotline?
Kentucky - George Clooney (D-Lexington), Ashley Judd (D-Ashland) - Who would have ever thought that one of the most liberal delegations in the Senate would come from Kentucky? Actor George Clooney hails from liberal Lexington and is a fervent supporter of democratic candidates. Ashley Judd, who holds the other seat, is pretty much a down the line liberal as well. I'm not sure this is realistic, but in KY, they pretty much support democrats unless their last name is Obama, so we're good.
West Virginia - Lou Holtz (R-Follansbee), Jennifer Garner (D-Charleston) - Here's a balanced delegation for WV. Lou Holtz, former college football coach, was actually recruited to run for Congress by the NRCC earlier this year. He'd represent the older, white man part of the GOP delegation. The other seat is held by actress Jennifer Garner. She's a fairly outspoken liberal, although I think I'm still looking for this Senate's Alan Grayson to go up against Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
Ohio - Lebron James (D-Akron), Jim Tressel (R-Columbus) - Ohio is a big sports state, and who better to lead the delegation than King James of the Cavaliers, who is probably one of the most liberal senators. He's a major proponent of social programs and a fighter for the lower class, particularly minorities. The other senator is Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel. A smart, very astute man, Tressel would be a reliable republican vote most of the time but would side with Dems on some of the common sense items, a la George Voinovich.
Michigan - Marshall Mathers (D-Detroit), Madonna Ciccone (D-Bay City) - After trudging through many states, we reach the Democrats' resident loudmouth. Mathers, better known as Eminem, is a full-out liberal and is quite outspoken about it. He also comes from a place that is rather angry in general. In the other seat is another progressive voice, Madonna, who surprisingly hails from the northern part of the state to give Michigan a delegation that is at least geographically balanced.
Indiana - John Mellencamp (D-Seymour), Peyton Manning (R-Indianapolis) - Like New Jersey, I had to start Indiana off with its prominent musical voice. Mellencamp was actually mentioned in some circles to succeed Evan Bayh this year, and for this state his views are quite liberal actually. But his immense popularity I think would allow him some leeway. Now the other seat isn't even a question. Peyton Manning, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, would take this one to the house easily. Politically he's pretty much in line with the state as well.
Illinois - Oprah Winfrey (D-Chicago), Eddie Vedder (D-Evanston) - Another liberal state, and another set of down the line progressive votes. Oprah is probably one of the most progressive members of the Senate, although like Barack Obama can be a bit of a pragmatist as well. I wanted to get a downstate resident in the other seat but that meant a republican, which is unrealistic, so Eddie Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam gets the other seat. He's slightly more moderate than Winfrey, but still quite acceptable for Illinois.
Wisconsin - Frank Caliendo (D-Waukesha), Danica Patrick (D-Beloit) - The Badger State has one of my favorite delegations in the Senate. The first seat is held by comedian Frank Caliendo, who could probably impersonate just about anybody else on this list. His politics are very liberal. The other seat is taken by race car driver Danica Patrick. A generally apolitical yet outspoken person, Danica would really frustrate the democratic leadership. It's probable that she would be a member of the Blue Dog Caucus.
Minnesota - Vince Vaughn (R-Minneapolis), Jessica Biel (D-Ely) - Actor Vince Vaughn's inclusion means that the Republicans avoid being totally shut out in the Upper Midwest. A down the line conservative, Vaughn would likely be one of the strong voices of the Republican delegation, and perhaps a candidate for the leadership. The other seat is taken by Jessica Biel, who is about as liberal as Vaughn is conservative. Coming from the rural part of the state it's interesting how she'd be viewed by urban DFLers, who would be without one of their own.
Iowa - Ashton Kutcher (D-Cedar Rapids), Shawn Johnson (D-Des Moines) - Now here's a guy that might surprise you politically. Kutcher, of Punk'd fame, is an unabashed social liberal but would undoubtedly be a blue dog because he is also a fiscal conservative. Really that's not a bad mix for a purple state like Iowa. I planned on having a split R/D setup here, but in a surprise, the 2nd seat goes to Shawn Johnson, gymnast and 4-time medalist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A voice of the younger generation, Johnson would likely be a champion of social tolerance and economic populism. In 2008, Kutcher and Johnson actually co-sponsored a fundraiser to help victims of flooding in Iowa, so they already have some experience working with one another.
Missouri - Albert Pujols (D-St. Louis), Bob Costas (D-St. Louis) - Here's another state without geographical or interparty balance, but it was hard to get away from these two. Pujols, the MVP and world champion slugger for the St. Louis Cardinals, is arguably one of the most popular figures in the state and is the Senate's 2nd Hispanic member. He'd be a down the line liberal, but the other senator, broadcaster Bob Costas, would not be. A largely independent voice, Costas would be one of the more frustrating members of the democratic caucus, but that's the price you pay to get 2 D's from Missouri.
Arkansas - Billy Bob Thornton (D-Hot Springs), Maya Angelou (D-Stamps) - This is one of the oldest delegations in the Senate. Thornton, who has contributed to many democratic candidates in the past, is about as liberal a senator as you could possibly get out of Arkansas these days. He'd defect on some fiscal issues, but otherwise he'd toe the line. Writer Maya Angelou is the 2nd seat, and she'd be one of the Senate's oldest members. Regrettably, I have concerns about her electability as a black woman in Arkansas, but at her age, she'd probably be a caretaker until the next election cycle. Oh yeah, she's very liberal and would be a civil rights and social justice champion.
Louisiana - Ellen Degeneres (D-Metairie), Drew Brees (R-New Orleans) - Alright, now this is quite ridiculous, the idea of an LGBT democratic candidate winning in Louisiana. We'll assume that the R candidate had a scandal before the election (not a stretch in LA by a longshot) and that Degeneres will bring her progressive views and her almost militant support for marriage equality to the Senate. The R's do get the other seat with the squeaky clean, unbelievably popular quarterback of the New Orleans Saints, Drew Brees. Unlike the other 2 QBs in the Senate though, Brees is a bit more independent and could stray on some economic and labor issues, most notably because of New Orleans's recent struggle.
Texas - Beyonce Knowles (R-Houston), Matthew McConaghey (R-Uvalde) - Admittedly, the inclusion of Beyonce is a strange choice because there are few celebs more apolitical than the pop/R&B star. She's said to lean republican but officially she's hid her affiliation quite a vehemently. My guess is that she'd be an economic conservative but would side with democrats on certain social issues, especially those dealing with equal pay for women or other women's issues. The other seat is held by actor Matthew McConaghey, who is an ultra-conservative voice. He'd be a down the line vote for the R's on just about everything.
Oklahoma - Chuck Norris (R-Ryan), Phil McGraw (R-Vinita) - Alright, shut down the internet, the race for minority leader is over. Norris takes it easily, being extremely conservative, from the reddest state in the nation, and being totally kick-ass. Unfortunately for the Democrats, he'd probably be a good vote-whipper, although certainly his work would be cut out for him with all those girly women running about the R caucus now. The other seat is taken by Dr. Phil McGraw, the psychologist gone tv celebrity. He's conservative, and it's a good thing, because he better not think about voting against the R's with Chuck Norris breathing down his neck!
Kansas - Melissa Etheridge (D-Leavenworth), Tom Watson (R-Stilwell) - If you thought the Democratic caucus would get their 2 most prominent LGBT voices from Louisiana and Kansas, raise your hand. Yup, republican civil war in Kansas strikes again, sending the extremely liberal and openly lesbian Etheridge to the Senate. The other seat is held by champion golfer Tom Watson, who like most golfers in the pre-Tiger Woods era is fairly conservative, matching the state as a whole. Still, this one has to sting for the R's.
Nebraska - Daniel Whitney (R-Omaha), Tom Osbourne (R-Hastings) - Now I'm cheating here as Osbourne is the only member of this body who has actually served in Congress before, representing Nebraska's 3rd congressional district from 2000-2006. But he's arguably still a hugely popular figure in the state. Daniel Whitney, also known as Larry the Cable Guy, is one of those "redneck comedians", and would also be a staunchly conservative vote.
South Dakota - Brock Lesnar (R-Webster), Tom Brokaw (D-Webster) - I never thought I would get such a high-profile delegation from South Dakota, but here it is. Brokaw, the former anchor of NBC Nightly News, leans democratic but has a bit of an independent streak to him as well. I'm not sure exactly how he would vote, if he'd be a down the liner or a blue dog type. Former WWE superstar and current MMA champion Brock Lesnar holds the other seat. His brash, tough persona would be tough even for Chuck Norris to handle, err, maybe not. But he'd be an intimidating minority whip!
North Dakota - Phil Jackson (D-Williston), Ed Schultz (D-Fargo) - 9-time NBA world champion coach Phil Jackson leads off an all-democratic delegation in ND. He'd be a rather calming voice to a lot of the more serious debate thanks to his reliance on meditation and zen. The other seat is taken by Ed Schultz, who was asked to run against John Hoeven this year.
Montana - Brent Musberger (R-Billings), Levi Leipheimer (R-Butte) - Here's a very unsightly delegation, all republican and not very visible as I had a very tough time picking out famous people from MT. Announcer Brent Musberger, who is a very pompous and outspoken type, should be a perfect fit in the republican caucus. Champion cyclist Levi Leipheimer is the other representative, and while he is usually conservative, he'd be gettable on issues dealing with the environment and transportation.
Wyoming - Harrison Ford (D-Jackson Hole), Rulon Gardner (R-Afton) - What's that you say, a democrat from Wyoming? Yup. Ford, who retains a residence in Jackson Hole even to this day, would bring a strong liberal streak to one of the nation's most conservative states. It's plausible given Dave Freudenthal's reign as governor and the R's difficulty in holding Wyoming's house seat. The other seat goes to champion wrestler and all-around lucky bastard, Rulon Gardner. After his travails, including surviving for days in biting cold pinned under heavy rocks, this should be easy for him.
Colorado - John Elway (R-Aurora), Lindsey Vonn (D-Vail) - The Super Bowl Champion ex-quarterback of the Broncos, Elway is a very outspoken conservative but hugely popular in Colorado. He'd probably be in the running for minority leader as his business success would be a positive. The other seat goes to Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, who was gold medalist in the 2010 downhill competition. Vonn is one of those surly types that would probably defect depending on the issue, as she is hugely independent in nature. Definitely a blue dog.
New Mexico - Demi Moore (D-Roswell), Brian Urlacher (R-Lovington) - New Mexico was disappointing as I wanted to get some minority representation here, but instead, the seats are held by actress Demi Moore and football linebacker Brian Urlacher. Moore would be a staunch liberal, but Urlacher would be a staunch conservative. I almost labeled him as unelectable in NM, but with others like Ellen Degeneres and Melissa Etheridge getting through, his election doesn't sound quite so implausible in a state that wasn't solid blue until recently.
Arizona - Phil Mickelson (R-Tempe), Steven Spielberg (D-Scottsdale) - Now this is a cool delegation. Mickelson, the golfing champion who is perhaps one of the most beloved sports figures in the nation, would quite literally represent the family values wing of the GOP. Director Steven Spielberg holds the other seat and would be about as liberal as Mickelson is conservative.
Utah - Karl Malone (R-Salt Lake City), Steve Young (R-Provo) - Not a bad idea to go with two sporting legends here in UT, and both are extremely conservative. Malone, star forward for the Utah Jazz all those years, would add yet another minority member to the GOP caucus, and Young would vie for the title of most conservative member of the Senate. It's unlikely that either of these guys would get Bob Bennetted at a convention.
Nevada - Andre Agassi (D-Las Vegas), Jenna Jameson (D-Las Vegas) - Who cares about balance? This is Nevada! When you have the chance to assemble the most illicit delegation in the nation, you put all your chips on red and hope the wheel stops on your color! Agassi, the former tennis star, brings a buoyant personality and a surprisingly liberal outlook from a sport that usually breeds conservatism. The other seat is taken by Jenna Jameson, who earned her keep through even more questionable means. Not surprisingly, she'd be one of the Senate's most liberal members.
California - Kevin Costner (D-Lynwood), Julie Foudy (R-San Diego) - This is a bitter pill for Democrats, to not have both seats in CA. Foudy, one of the members of the U.S. women's soccer team when they won world cups last decade and now a reporter for ESPN, would be highly respected but very conservative. Unlike fellow white woman GOPer Elisabeth Hasselbeck though, Foudy tends to be more quiet and reserved about her politics, making it likely she can slip by in CA. The other senator comes from the Hollywood wing of the state, actor Kevin Costner. A frequent donator to Democratic campaigns and politically astute, Costner would make a strong run at majority leader I think.
Idaho - Lou Dobbs (R-Rupert), Chris Peterson (R-Boise) - News anchor Lou Dobbs leads off an all-republican delegation in ID, and though he claims to be independent, he has contributed major money in the past to GOPers, meaning that he's probably sufficiently conservative for this uber-red state. Boise State head coach Chris Peterson, arguably the most popular figure in the state, is the other senator. Like Dobbs, he's very conservative in nature.
Oregon - Matt Groening (D-Portland), Tonya Harding (R-Portland) - Cartoonist and television producer Matt Groening is a staunch liberal, one of the most liberal senators overall. Tonya Harding, on the other hand, would be a conservative blowhard on the fringes of electability. It's a delegation pretty suitable for OR, which has very liberal democrats and very conservative republicans, with very few moderates.
Washington - Ken Jennings (D-Redmond), Apolo Anton Ohno (D-Federal Way) - Washington is one of the more liberal states, and here we have a democratic pair, led off by quiz show kingpin Ken Jennings. Once pressed to run for Senate in Utah, where he used to live, Jennings would be a natural choice for majority leader or majority whip because of his smarts. Olympic short track skater Apolo Anton Ohno holds the other seat, and like Jennings, he brings a spate of liberal views to the table. He also makes the list as the only Asian-American in the body.
Alaska - Curt Schilling (R-Anchorage), Valerie Plame (D-Anchorage) - I had no idea Curt Schilling was actually from Alaska. His conservative views would be perfect for such a state, so in he goes. AK's other seat goes to outed CIA spy turned writer Valerie Plame. A former conservative, Plame now considers herself a democrat, though she would be far from a down the line vote.
Hawaii - Nicole Kidman (D-Honolulu), Bethany Hamilton (D-Tunnels Beach) - We finish out the Senate in the Pacific Ocean, and with two democrats. Kidman, who is actually a duel citizen of the U.S and Austrailia on the basis that she was born in Hawaii, would be largely viewed as a carpetbagger, but her liberal politics would play very well on the islands. The final seat in the Senate goes to surfer Bethany Hamilton, who once had her arm eaten by a shark, only to come back and become a surfing champion by beating everybody with one arm. She would be a champion for the rights of Americans with disabilities and with degenerative illnesses and injuries.
So there you have it. 57 democrats, 41 republicans, 2 independents, and a legislative body that we can all be proud of. At least until the first after-work party.