Who knew earmarks could arouse such passions?

There is a long and boring profile of former speaker John Boehner that will likely be of interest only to diehard political geeks who are interested in the minutiae of political maneuvering. But there is one interesting nugget about what happened when, as speaker, Boehner promised to get rid of ‘earmarks’, the practice by which money is allocated to fund the pet projects of congresspeople in their districts and are popularly seen as a means of bribing them for their votes and loyalty. This led to something that looks like it would be seen as too extreme even for the series House of Cards.

Boehner never accepted an earmark in Congress—and he enjoyed railing against those who did. His heckling once provoked Don Young, an Alaskan himself, to pin Boehner against a wall inside the House chamber and hold a 10-inch knife to his throat. Boehner says he stared Young in the eyes and said, “Fuck you.” (Young says this account is “mostly true,” but notes that the two became good friends, with Boehner later serving as his best man.)

Maybe Boehner and Young should have followed the example of Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie and had a duel to the death.


  1. Jim Robinson says

    We have gone so far down the rabbit hole that an old-school, corrupt, country-club Republican like John Boehner now appears to be a long-lost voice of sanity.

  2. jrkrideau says

    We don’t have the equivalent of Congressional “earmarks” here and whenever I see the term my mind flashes back to my childhood when an earmark meant a notch in a cow’s ear, used to indicate ownership.

    Why would a member of the US Congress be carrying a 10-inch knife in the House? He thought he was a reincarnation of Crocodile Dundee?

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