Airplanes have problems every day. They lose parts, they lose pressure, they get into strange mechanical situations where smoke or fumes are seen or smelled. It happened the other day to Continental, which had a 737 flying from Houston to Washington. Somewhere east of Houston, the plane’s pressurization dropped, the pilots decided to go down, and Flight 458 made an unscheduled or emergency landing in New Orleans, about 300 miles east of Houston. No big deal? Well, no. BIG DEAL.
The plane had seven Members of Congress on aboard, members of the House who had chosen the 1:05 pm departure from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental because it gets to Washington Reagan at 5-ish – just in time for Members to get to the floor of the House for the 6:30 pm votes that are often scheduled for the first working day of the working week. (No comments on the Congressional workload, please.)
So the guys missed a vote, in this case (here comes the irony) one on a bill called the Aviation Safety Enhancement act of 2008. The bill squeaked by 292-0, and it’s likely that the tally would have been closer to 300 in favor, and possibly one against of the plane had made it. That’s because of the three Republicans on aboard was one Ron Paul, aka Dr. Paul. A former presidential candidate, Paul is noted for his “libertarian” views that include a return to the gold standard, home schooling, total government non-interference, etc. Paul’s supporters promptly raised questions of a conspircay, and so did one liberal blogger. So who IS Ron Paul?