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2010 Best & Worst of Congress
Who’s the smartest member of Congress? The most eloquent? The hottest? Top aides on Capitol Hill tell all.
Comments () | Published September 13, 2010
Partisanship runs high on Capitol Hill—one party’s hero often is the other’s villain. But not always. In some areas, true bipartisanship prevails. For example, when it comes to who’s hot and who’s not.

Even where party unity holds sway, there’s lots to learn about members of Congress from those who know them best—top Capitol Hill staffers. Every election year, we survey administrative aides, press secretaries, legislative directors, and chiefs of committee staffs for their take on the best and worst of Congress. This year, we also asked them about members of the administration. For each reply, we gave a dollar to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington or So Others Might Eat. Here are the congressional aides’ 2010 picks and pans.



1. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

2. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.)

3. Tie: Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)

In straight party-line votes, majority whip Durbin and departing Banking Committee chairman Dodd polled the most.


1. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

2. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.)

3. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

The vote for the ever camera-ready Schumer was bipartisan.

Rising Star

1. John Thune (R-S.D.)

2. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

3. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

In another party-line duel, the South Dakotan (R) edged out the Minnesotan (D).

Most Eloquent

1. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)

2. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.)

3. Tie: Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

Durbin has been called the chamber’s “best debater,” and the late Robert Byrd’s oratorical legacy lives on.

Least Eloquent

1. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)

2. David Vitter (R-La.)

3. Tie: Susan Collins (R-Maine), Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

The retiring but hardly shy Kentucky senator is known for his impolitic comments, but his votes were all from Democrats.


1. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

2. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)

3. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tx.)

Mikulski and Hutchison are perennials in this category.


1. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)

2. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.)

So many nice senators, so little consensus. Eight tied for third.


1. Al Franken (D-Minn.)

2. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)

3. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

Congress has a new comedy king—at least according to Democratic staffers.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 09/13/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Articles