It's Getting Rough On Capitol Hill, The GOP Middle School Playground

Markwayne Mullin

Sen. Markwayne Mullin

The pushing and shoving and yelling and screaming and threats and confused gibberish began on Tuesday when former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy elbowed a fellow Republican member of Congress in the kidney in a House corridor. The Kidney-Punched-One was Tennessee Representative Tim Burchett, who was one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy from his speakership last month.

He compounded his crimes against good order and discipline in the House by voting to confirm Baby-Faced-Fetus-Defender Mike Johnson, who since taking control of the House, has spent most of his time attempting to downplay his links to the New Apostolic Reformation, a fringe-of-the-fringe right-wing Christian group that according to NPR, “embraces ‘the Seven Mountains mandate’ which says Christians have a duty to God to take control of the seven pillars of society: business, education, entertainment, family, government, media and religion.”

So, what was Ousted Kevin doing sucker-punching a good and reasonable man like Tim Burchett? I mean, Burchett was the congressman who after the school shooting in his own district in Nashville went to the steps of the Capitol and told reporters, “It's a horrible, horrible situation, and we're not going to fix it. Criminals are gonna be criminals. And my daddy fought in the second world war, fought in the Pacific, fought the Japanese, and he told me, he said, ‘Buddy,’ he said, ‘if somebody wants to take you out, and doesn't mind losing their life, there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do about it.’” Burchett went on to opine that the Congress didn’t really have a role in dealing with gun violence other than to “mess things up.”

Burchett would seem to be right down Ousted Kevin’s alley, if it weren’t for the fact that Burchett was one of those who voted to oust Ousted Kevin. That vote earned Burchett what he called “a clean shot to the kidneys.” After McCarthy was confronted by a reporter who witnessed the incident, he denied that it happened, bragging, “If I would hit somebody, they would know I hit them.” McCarthy-ouster Burchett countered, “He just elbowed me in the kidneys ... It was deliberate. It was just a cheap shot.” McCarthy-ouster Burchett chased Ousted Kevin down the Capitol hallway and asked, “Why'd you walk behind me and elbow me in the back?”

McCarthy hit his nyah-nyah button and responded, “I didn't elbow you in the back.”

To which Burchett nyah-nyahed right back, “You got no guts, you did so.”

At which point, the bell rang, and the ouster-versus-oustee caucus went back to the middle school playground of the House floor.

Over on the side of the Capitol posing as The Greatest Deliberative Body in the World, Republican Markwayne Mullin, the junior senator from Oklahoma, was busy picking a fight with Teamster President Sean O’Brien at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. Apparently, the two men do not like each other. Last summer, Mullin challenged O’Brien to a mixed martial arts fight at a place of O’Brien’s choosing, after the Teamster chief called him a “Greedy CEO who pretends like he’s self-made. In reality, just a clown & fraud. Always has been, always will be.”

The nyah-nyahing continued back then with Teamster President O’Brien telling Mullin to “quit the tough guy act in these Senate hearings. You know where to find me. Anyplace, anytime cowboy.”

The cowboy from Oklahoma confronted O’Brien at the Tuesday hearing, telling him, “You wanna run your mouth? We can be two consenting adults, we can finish it here. This is the time, this is the place. You wanna do it now?”

O’Brien fired back, “Okay, that’s fine. Perfect. I’d love to do it now.”

“Stand your butt up, then,” Mullin challenged. “You stand your butt up, big guy,” answered O’Brien.

Mullin stood up from his seat in his shirtsleeves and took off his wedding ring, moving toward the stairs at the end of the raised dais, ready for a fight.

“No, no, sit down,” commanded Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), chairman of the committee. “You are a United States Senator. Sit down.”

Meanwhile, back on the other side of the Capitol, at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Louisiana Republican Rep. Clay Higgins jumped all over FBI Director Christopher Wray and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Greene accused Mayorkas of being responsible for the death of several people from Dalton, Georgia, because he hadn’t stopped an immigrant smuggler “likely affiliated with the cartels” from killing them. She then turned her wrath on Director Wray, accusing him of using helicopters to track down and arrest leaders of the January 6 assault on the Capitol and “raiding their homes with flash bangs, targeting these people, watching these people, throwing them in jail for them to stay in pretrial in solitary confinement for years before they ever face trial.”

Not to be outdone, Representative Higgins confronted Wray, accusing him of fielding FBI agent provocateurs who conspired with the Proud Boys to attack the Capitol on January 6. “If you are asking whether the violence at the Capitol on January 6 was part of some sort of operation orchestrated by FBI sources and/or agents, the answer is an emphatic no,” Wray shot back.

“You're saying ‘no’”? Higgins said.

“No, there was not violence orchestrated by FBI sources or agents,” Wray replied.

“Are you familiar, do you know what a ghost vehicle is? The director of the FBI certainly should. You know what a ghost bus is?”

Wray, looking confused, replied: “I'm not sure I've used that term before.”

Higgins held up a photograph of buses he said were parked on streets near the Capitol on January 6. “It's pretty common in law enforcement. It's a vehicle that is used for secret purposes. It's painted over. These two buses in the middle, they were the first to arrive on January 6. I have all of this evidence.”

Wray looked bewildered as Higgins went on to spew more conspiracy theories some aide had pulled off the dark web, pointing to two white “ghost” buses.

Well, at least the Homeland Security hearing didn’t devolve into nyah-nyah challenges to engage in mixed martial arts fisticuffs right there in the hearing room.

I would say there may be hope yet if it weren’t for Defendant Trump. He’s bound to call on his supporters to shoot some vermin at one of his rallies before this election cycle is over.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.


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