Depending on your taste for demagoguery, the Idaho House showed off some of its finest/worst oratory in more than six hours of debate Wednesday, when they took up Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's proposal for a state-run health insurance exchange.
Ultimately, the House voted 41-29 to approve
Star Republican Rep. Mike Moyle, the House majority leader, sparked the full day of debate Wednesday by comparing the exchange to a "sock puppet" that asks, "Mother, may I?"
"We're going to give something away that we could never get back," said Moyle. "You better be voting no."
But Lewiston Democratic Rep. John Rusche, a retired physician, reminded the body that the exchange would be "a new way to distribute products" and that it was "only for small group and individual policies." That said, Rusche hedged his support for the measure.
"I would pick the body corporate and body politic rather than it being run by the state," said Rusche. "However, that doesn't appear to be the choice we have."
Eagle Republican Rep. Reed DeMordaunt argued that the state would have little, if any, authorship in crafting and managing the exchange.
"The only flexibility we have is how we say, 'yes ma'am,'" said DeMordaunt.
Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker took the debate down a peculiar path, using a term that more than a few Americans find offensive, in recalling the Uncle Remus stories of Brer Rabbit.
"We've got ourselves a tar baby," said Luker. "It's a tar baby ... and now we're turning to embrace it."
Meridian Republican Rep. Joe Palmer told his colleagues that his constituents instructed him how to vote.
"They have clearly told me to vote 'no.' That's what I'll be doing," said Palmer.
Freshman Republican Rep. Brandon Hixon of Caldwell said he would support the bill.
"This is [President Barack Obama's] signature piece of legislation. He spends money like it's free," said Hixon. "That leaves us with doing damage control."
Midvale Republican Rep. Judy Boyle said the measure was "unlike anything I've seen."
"This is probably the most important vote we'll ever make," said Boyle. "This bill has tremendous constitutional problems."
Nampa Republican Rep. Rick Youngblood invoked the memory of the classic movie Network (although he twisted the plot quite a bit).
"That man said, 'I'm as mad as heck and I'm not going to take it anymore,'" said Youngblood, who said he ran his election campaign on the premise of a state exchange. "Guess what? I got voted in overwhelmingly. But now all of a sudden, I'm being told here at the Capitol to vote 'no.' Ladies and gentleman, I'm an Idaho native and I'm mad as heck. Vote yes."
Midvale Republican Rep. Lawerence Denney said he was "mad as heck as well" and "we need to push back."
"We need to say no to a state exchange and no to a federal exchange," said Denney. "There's no right way to do the wrong thing."
As Wednesday afternoon became Wednesday evening, Challis Republican Rep. Lenore Barrett didn't disappoint with her usual candor.
"We seem to be the only body politic on the planet that will kill a horse in order to have a horse to beat," said Barrett. "Let my people go."
When Burley Republican Rep. Fred Wood stood to close debate, he said, "Mr. Speaker, I'll be brief..."
That's when House Speaker Rep. Scott Bedke said, "That's what they all say."