The U.S. House of Representatives recently held a hearing concerning the revelation that Congress’ approval rating hit the unprecedented low of -0.4%. The following is a transcript of that hearing.
CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL RATING FALLS BELOW 0%
SUBCOMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATION, EFFICIENCY AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED TWELTH CONGRESS
AUGUST 4, 2012
ANSLEY BLACK, Arkansas, Chairwoman
GREGORY RODER, New Hampshire
SUSAN WATERS, Delaware
MICHAEL MACK, Florida
LOUIS ORTEGA, California
JULES PRINCE, Michigan
OLIVIA BECKMAN, Nevada
WILLIAM ANDERSON, Missouri
ALEXANDER RAFTER, North Carolina
NANCY GREY, Virginia
LEO JANUS, Hawaii
Christian Rollis PhD, Editor-in-Chief, The Gallup Poll
Robert Broadmeyer PhD, President, American Statistical Association
Barbara Leaf PhD, President, American Physics Society
Dr. Julia Franklin, Executive Director, The George Washington University Hospital Maternity Ward
Ms. Abigail Hernandez
MS. BLACK. Good morning everyone. I hereby call the Subcommittee on Government Organization, Efficiency, and Financial Management to order. I see that all the members are present and accounted for, so let’s begin.
I recognize myself for an opening statement.
We have been assembled today to review an unprecedented, highly worrisome, and seemingly impossible development. According to a study published by the Gallup Poll last week, Congress’ already abysmally low approval rating has dropped into the negatives for the first time in history.
To say that I am floored by this development is an understatement. I have no idea how this could have happened. I certainly doubt anyone else on this subcommittee knows either. I therefore motion that we skip the procedural opening statements and move straight into the testimony of the very intelligent panel of witnesses gathered before us. Do I have unanimous consent to continue?
[Transcriber’s note: unanimous consent was given.]
MS. BLACK. Very well. Dr. Rollis, how is it possible that your organization has recorded a negative approval rating for Congress?
DR. ROLLIS. Well, according to the American people, the Legislative Branch of the U.S. government has apparently shoved its head three feet right up its own ass.
MS. BLACK. What, what??
DR. ROLLIS. Pardon my use of profanity. But you see, the statistically correct answer to that question is—as I just said—that you all have your heads up your own asses.
MS. BLACK. Explain yourself.
DR. ROLLIS. It’s quite simple. Two weeks ago, we conducted a survey of Americans asking their opinion of Congress. 13% disapproved, 24% highly disapproved, 44% entered miscellaneous submissions, and 33% said that you had your heads three feet up your asses.
MS. BLACK. You mean to tell me that you conducted a survey in which you included “Congress has its head up its ass” as an option?
DR. ROLLIS. No ma’am. Our only options were: highly approve, approve, neutral, disapprove, and highly disapprove. “Congress has its head three feet up its own ass” was a write-in. As were the miscellaneous answers.
MS. BLACK. I find it very hard to believe that 33% of the Americans spontaneously wrote such a particularly specific phrase into your survey.
DR. ROLLIS. Technically, 16% wrote-in that you had your heads 2 feet up your asses. 17% wrote-in that your heads were inserted four feet. We decided to combine the two figures by taking their mean average, therefore streamlining the survey’s findings.
MR. JANUS. And what of this miscellaneous statistic? How can your organization claim to have recorded a negative approval rating when 44% of those you’ve polled entered a variety of different responses?
DR. ROLLIS. Ah, that. I’m glad you brought it up. I’ve actually brought samples of some of the tamer answers we received so that you could see for yourselves.
[Transcribers’ note: Dr. Rollis passed a thick, bound booklet to each of the Congresspersons and sat back down. The members of the subcommittee opened their booklets and began to read.]
MR. ORTEGA. Congresspersons should eat shit, die, and get revived as zombies so that I could shoot every one of them in the face with a shotgun without being arrested.
MS. BLACK. Oh my…
DR. ROLLIS. It gets worse.
MR. RODER. The members of Congress should be loaded onto a 727 rigged with video cameras and crashed into the Andes so that the American people could watch them slowly eat each other.
MS. BLACK. And you said these were the tamer answers?
DR. ROLLIS. Yes ma’am, that’s right.
MR. RAFTER. I want to transport our Congress back to 1812 and lock them in the Capitol building while the British burn it down.
MS. GREY. Christ…
MR. MACK. Congress should be covered in powdered sugar, forced into a giant three-legged race with alternating Republican and Democrat members, and made to run from a horde of African army ants so that they finally have an excuse to work together.
MR. RODER. Good thing I’m a biter, because Congress just rammed my throat full of its gigantic, throbbing…
MS. BLACK. OK, that’s it. I think we’ve heard enough. Let’s get back to the topic at hand. Dr. Rollis, how did your organization come up with a negative number for a survey? That shouldn’t be possible.
DR. ROLLIS. I think that’s more of a question for Drs. Broadmeyer and Leaf. I can only describe to you the procedural steps we took to come up with our conclusions.
MS. BLACK. Go on then.
DR. ROLLIS. We first conducted this survey two weeks ago. At the end of it, our findings placed the approval rating of Congress at -1% with an absolute deviation of plus or minus 3%.
So, of course, we thought this was a statistical anomaly. The deviation gave us plenty of room to doubt the end product. With a 3% a.d., Congress’ approval rating could have been 0%, or even 1%. So we went back, took a larger sample, and did it again.
MS. BLACK. And your current findings? How did they turn out?
DR. ROLLIS. Oh there’s no doubt about it. Literally no one likes you. Our larger sample placed your approval rating at -4% with an absolute deviation of plus or minus 2%. Congress is firmly in the red.
MS. BECKMEN. What I’d like to know, Dr. Rollis, is whether or not there is any statistical or scientific backing for your survey. Dr. Broadmeyer, is this negative approval rating even possible?
DR. BROADMEYER. Technically, its not supposed to be. But Dr. Rollis’ conclusions are sound. It all checks out beautifully. Furthermore, if you follow Congress’ approval rating over the last several months, you will note that it follows a strict linearly regressive trend…
MR. RAFTER. English, if you please, Dr. Broadmeyer.
DR. BROADMEYER. Congress’ approval has been dropping unabated at a steady clip. This trend had not reversed or slowed in years. It only makes sense that it would eventually reach, and then pass 0%.
MR. PRINCE. I don’t care what the trends are, or what the standard deviation…
DR. ROLLIS. Absolute deviation.
MR. PRINCE. Whatever. I don’t care what your number-crunching analysts say. There’s no way you can come up with a negative value for an approval rating.
MS. BLACK. Care to enlighten us, Dr. Leaf?
DR. LEAF. Sure. As Congressman Prince just mentioned, 0% should be an absolute. A universal speed limit, if you will, that cannot be surmounted.
However, if you review the scientific discoveries of the last year, you will find that this Gallup survey was not the first case of an absolute being shattered. Look at the neutrino experiments conducted at CERN. The speed of light was supposedly unsurpassable. But they fired off a series of particles that did just that. Who’s to say that 0% is an absolute? Who’s to say that Congress can’t have a negative approval rating?
MR. MACK. What ramification does this have on Congress? What does this mean for the American people? Dr. Broadmeyer?
DR. BROADMEYER. It’s difficult to tell. Congress has obviously enraged so many Americans to such a fevered pitch that it appears to have actually succeeded in accruing an acute anger deficit.
MR. MACK. Huh?
DR. BROADMEYER. In layman’s terms, you have frustrated so many individuals to such a high degree that there is currently more resentment and irritation aimed at your institution than there are currently people to absorb it.
MR. MACK. Wait, what?
DR. BROADMEYER. OK. You’ve pissed so many people off that they can’t possibly get any angrier with you. This means that there’s a whole lot of anger out there—directed at you—that cannot be soaked up with this country’s current population.
MS. BLACK. What effect is this going to have on our country, Dr. Broadmeyer?
DR. BROADMEYER. Well this anger has to go somewhere. The only logical conclusion is that it’s going to be passed onto the next generation.
MS. WATERS. The next generation? How? How can they be destined to be angry with us when they don’t even exist yet?
DR. BROADMEYER. Like I said before, it has to go somewhere, and the only people that can take up the slack are the next ones in the pipe.
MS. BLACK. So are our children and grandchildren predestined to hate Congress as well?
DR. BROADMEYER. It certainly seems so.
MS. BLACK. Dr. Franklin, have you noted this trend in your maternity ward?
DR. FRANKLIN. Oh absolutely. Whenever the nurses or doctors at GW Hospital even mention Congress around the newborns, they immediately start crying and screaming uncontrollably. It takes us hours just to calm them down.
MR. JANUS. And for how long has this been happening?
DR. FRANKLIN. About two weeks now.
MS. BLACK. I have it understood that you brought along one of your patients to demonstrate. A Ms. Hernandez, I believe?
MS. HERNANDEZ. Yes, that’s me. I just gave birth twelve days ago to Michael, a healthy eight-pound baby boy.
MS. BLACK. Congratulations.
MS. HERNANDEZ. Thank you very much. We’re very happy with him. He’s very well behaved. The problems only occur when my husband Eric and I talk about what’s going on in Congress around him. He’ll just start screaming at the top of his lungs. We were going to bring him into the subcommittee hearing, but Michael threw such a tantrum when he saw the Capitol building that Eric had to take him back to the apartment.
MS. BLACK. Wow. I really don’t know what to say. What do we do about this?
MS. GREY. Well, clearly it’s the Republicans’ fault. All they do is obstruct any and everything trying to make its way through Congress.
MR. ANDERSON. You’re kidding me, right?
MS. GREY. Oh, I assure you that I’m not. Your party wants to shut government down. You want us to be a do-nothing Congress.
MR. ANDERSON. Please. You have some gall to say that when you know damn well it’s the Democrats’ fault. All you do is try to ram bills down our throats that are purposefully designed to fail! You want us to look bad for standing up for our principles! You want the American people to blame us!
MS. BLACK Order!
MR. PRINCE. Liar! Your party doesn’t even try to work with us! You’ve turned compromise into a dirty word
MS. BLACK. I said order!
[Transcriber’s note: Ms. Black banged her gavel furiously]
MR. JANUS. No one likes you, Black.
[Transcriber’s note: Ms. Black threw her gavel at Mr. Janus’ head].
MR. ANDERSON. Screw you, Prince. You don’t even bother to show up to the hearings half the time.
MS. WATERS. And the only time you show up is when you’ve received some obscene donation to your super PAC to run your mouth in this chamber.
MR. ANDERSON. Oh shut up, Waters! The sole reason you’re even in this chamber is because your district is gerrymandered past recognition.
MS. WATERS. Go to hell, Anderson!
[Transcriber’s note: The subcommittee quickly degenerated into a fistfight while the witnesses stared on in shocked disbelief. Eventually, the Capitol Police were called in to drag away the warring Representatives. An uncomfortable silence descended upon the room. Slowly, hesitantly the witnesses walked out of the empty chamber and into the hallway outside.]