Maybe you thought the “War Between the States [i.e., Civil War]” was over—and you’d be right, up to a point. The North won and the marathon race toward a “more perfect Union” continues apace. But here’s an intra-fratricidal war, at least at the level of barbs: Florida congressman Alcee Hastings says Texas is a damned crazy state. His words to his Texas colleague Michael Burgess, verbatim: “I don’t know about in your state, which I think is a crazy state to begin with — and I mean that just as I said it.” The Texas “smack-down” (check out Jon Stewart’s hilarious take, in which he noted the oddity of Florida calling Texas crazy: “You may as well call out Oklahoma for also having a panhandle”) was instigated during a debate on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Hasting’s frustration as to the unwillingness of Republican governors to set up state exchanges to achieve the ACA’s goals. Immediately, Burgess asked for an apology. None was forthcoming; in response, Hastings upped the ante: “I told you what I think about Texas — I wouldn’t live there for all the tea in China.” Here’s the closing punch—after a repeated request for an apology by Burgess: “You will wait till hell freezes over.
Subsequently, Hastings backed up his allegations with forensic fact on CNN and it was startling as it was goofy and inane: at one point Texas regulated the amount and use of sex toys; in this case, dildos. If this is sexual puritanism at its most extreme, it is also anti-libertarian (which in a state noted for its anti-regulatory ethos seems like rank hypocrisy. Fact: many cities in Texas have no zoning laws). In any event, this was one of the great congressional scenes ever—unless you’re talking about that guy who beat his congressional colleague with a cane over a perceived insult to the great state of South Carolina. Now, that was crazy—even, dare say, crazier than a Texas Friday night brawl.