The hair, the leisure suits, and the fact that he was out of prison -- but perhaps not out of northeastern Ohio's heart -- makes former Rep. James Traficant very interesting.
Released from federal prison in 2009 after serving seven years on corruption charges, the former congressman known for ending his floor speeches with "Beam me up, Mr. Speaker" ran as an independent back in his old stomping grounds of Youngstown to be defeated by Tim Ryan in 2010.
Traficant was only the second member to be removed from Congress since the Civil War, by a vote of 420-1.
That being said, some of his floor statements were -- as Chris Farley used to say -- awesome.
It was just over 14 years ago that Traficant delivered a speech for the ages. No, it probably doesn't rank up there with President Kennedy's bold challenge to reach the moon or President Reagan's "tear down this wall" address, but it was one worth noting.
One example of Traficant’s style:
Singling out the Department of Agriculture's Environmental Quality Incentives Program for questionable spending, Traficant said: “After years of studies and reports, and after hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, the Department of Agriculture has come to several conclusions.
No 1: Big farm animals produce more manure than small farm animals. And No. 2: Manure stinks. Beam me up, Mr. Speaker!
"200 million dollars to determine that manure stinks. I think these environmentalists over at the Department of Agriculture have been smelling too many methane fumes...”
If you would like to see him on the air here are some links to see his speaking style:
I was in the room when he spoke to the ASIS International Akron-Canton Chapter and SACS Consulting and Investigative Services, Inc. sponsored his talk on Thursday, October 28, 2010 at Ohio Prestwick Country Club in Uniontown, Ohio and he packed the room.
He delivered one of the best orations I have ever heard. You could have heard a pin drop, he was that good. You might agree he was a crook, but today's politicians could learn from his delivery style.
The only other presenter that came close to Traficant was G. Gordon Liddy whom I had a chance to see when he just got out of prison in 1981. He came up to the college I attended, Central Michigan University, and they wouldn't even give him the auditorium to speak. He spoke in a modest classroom - but he was powerful and had much to say about our political system. Just like Traficant.