You know times have changed when C-SPAN needs to bleep a broadcast for language.
For a minute I thought it was the foul-mouthed mob bosses on the "Sopranos." It was just Sen. Carl Levin at the Congressional committee hearings.
The senator dropped 11 S-bombs in four minutes while soliciting testimony from a former Goldman Sachs executive.
At first the senator was simply reading from an internal e-mail describing an investment as an S-bomb. He could have just said, "blank," or "vulgarity" or "coarse language," but he said it. He went for the ratings and, who knows, C-SPAN may really need them.
But then the senator began dropping S-bombs into his questioning like punctuation marks in a tediously long sentence. The more he said it, the more he liked it.
It was like eating potato chips, he couldn't stop with just one.
A fourth, a fifth, a sixth S-bomb. Yes, the Senator was getting in touch with his bad boy self.
And then he glazed over with a faraway look. He was lamenting that he didn't know about the S-bomb when he was 9. He could have really rocked the playground at recess. But he knew it now, and no one was going to stop him from using it. A seventh, an eighth.
Meanwhile, rumor was that Vice President Biden was outside the chambers re-enacting his much celebrated F-bomb gaffe, walking by one microphone after another saying, "This is an "F-bomb" big deal," and then laughing jolly well pleased with himself and asking visitors to the Capitol if they would like his autograph.
When the Goldman Sachs hearings adjourned for recess, some worried that Senator Levin would return to the hearings with sunglasses, his pants sagging and a dozen heavy gold chains draped around his neck.
Senator: Let's pick up where we left off. Where were we?
Aide: "You were dropping S-bombs, sir."
With Levin's glasses perched low on his nose and his hair in a comb-over he looked Franklinesque. It is hard to imagine Franklin and his associates dropping the S-bomb.
Franklin: "Mr. Washington, we'd like you to consider being president. Truly. No S-bomb!"
Madison: "S-bomb, Ben. I was going to suggest that."
S-bombing requires a certain loutishness and vulgarity that we have come to acquire at a public level only in more recent years. And now that we are comfortable with F-bombs and S-bombs, we have adopted a scorched earth policy regarding their usage.
Sen. Levin clearly had the ability to make people squirm each time he let loose with another vulgarity. What's more, he perfected an absolutely withering sneer that he trained on the jellyfish testifying for Goldman Sachs. But Levin is not without something on the bottom of his shoes either.
They're all stepping in it.
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