So, Congress stayed in session all weekend hammering out a new version of the bailout plan: $250 billion initially, then $100 billion more at the president's discretion, then if they need more money they go back to Congress and ask them for $350 billion more. It got pretty ugly, according to the Journal and the Times, who both reported the negotiations were "tension-filled." The Journal, as it is wont to do lately, even provided a dramatic reenactment of some exchanges:
"Damn it, if you think you need $700 billion right away you better tell us," Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York told the Treasury secretary, according to two people familiar with the matter.
"I'm doing this for you as much as for me," Mr. Paulson shot back. "If we don't do this, it's coming down on all our heads."
Barney Frank also reportedly got off another of his zingers: "All we're talking about is having Groucho, Harpo, and Chico watching over Zeppo," he said, regarding an oversight board.
But even with comic relief, the energy of so many power-mongering egoists combined, we imagine, with the smell of old people processing pizza (delivered) and pistachio nuts (from Nancy Pelosi's office) and the heady scent of Pelosi's White Diamonds, must've actually literally sucked the oxygen out of the room because at one point, the Times reported, Hank Paulson "suddenly seemed short of breath and possibly ill."
This is extra dramatic, of course, because Sexy Shirtless is a Christian Scientist and would therefore have to refuse treatment. In the end he was fine, but how much more, we wonder, can he take? How much more can any of these geezers take? Early this morning, President Bush urged the House to pass the bill and quickly, and we have to wonder if he had not just the health of the economy, but the health of American lawmakers, in mind.