A week ago, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, bet he would have committee chair Henry Waxman (D-CA) “by the nuts” during the markup of landmark climate and energy legislation by the committee:
He has got a chance to get the votes. If you are familiar with Texas Hold ‘Em poker, he doesn’t have the nuts. It is not a done deal. Nor do I. … We will see which has the other by the nuts next week.
“This is not going to be one of those gentlemanly, pro forma markups,” Barton swaggered, while circulating a list of hundreds of poison-pill amendments. “We’re prepared for it to take weeks or months.”
Instead, business and industry joined President Obama and environmentalists to support the bill, leaving Barton’s fellow global warming deniers to anonymously snipe at each other. Waxman didn’t blink at Barton’s bluster, even hiring a speedreader to negate Barton’s threat to delay the process by forcing the reading in full of the 937-page legislation and every amendment.
As Waxman steered the markup and Obama announced groundbreaking limits on global warming pollution from automobiles, Barton talked about the CO2 in Dr. Pepper. Republicans were left flailing, accusing Democrats of engineering economic catastrophe one moment and of being the party of big business the next. As his defeat became certain, Barton whined about being “beat time after time after time after time”:
It’s easy on the majority to keep up a good-faith attitude because you’re winning. . . . It’s not a lot of fun, as you well know, having been in the minority yourself for twelve years, to work very hard and put just as much effort and put just as much focus, and get beat time after time after time after time 36 to 22, 31 to 20, whatever it is.
In the showdown between Waxman and Barton, it turned out to be the Texan who was all hat and no cattle.