The U.S. Senate can't seem to agree on much these days, but that doesn't mean that the spirit of Christmas has escaped them. For the third year in a row, the Senate held its annual Secret Santa gift exchange.
Originally started by Minnesota Senator Al Franken, the gift exchange is a way for the usual partisan lines to be erased for one day of holiday fun and some good old-fashioned ribbing. West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, for example, got Florida Republican Senator and headline maker Marco Rubio, a Republican; he gave him donkey and elephant figurines made out of coal. West Virginia is coal country, after all.
The maximum amount of money each Senator could spend was $15, but you can be pretty creative with $15.
How fun! It's nice to know that no matter the party line, government can still have a good time.
I thought it would be nice to give $15 Secret Santa gifts to some of our favorite state and local government officials, and wish them a
happy holiday, Merry Christmas whatever it's being called these days.
Governor Rick Perry
What do you give the man who has it all? Since you can't gift anyone the presidency, especially not for $15, I figure it would be best to give him something he would never buy for himself: a $15 donation made on his behalf to Planned Parenthood. It's not much, but the way they are going this year in Texas, they will take every cent they can.
Senator John Cornyn Senator John Cornyn is not as spotlight-driven as some of his counterparts, but his record on gun control is inescapable. In April 2013, Cornyn was one of 46 senators to vote against the passage of a gun bill that aimed to increase background checks for buyers. Apparently, Cornyn would rather not know anything about the purchasers of guns. And so maybe what Cornyn needs this Christmas is a "Magic Eight Ball," which will help him answer tough questions on why guns land in the hands of the criminally insane.
"Does this potential gun buyer have a history of violence?"
Senator Ted Cruz One of the most outspoken senators of 2013, Cruz yelled and screeched and cried over President Obama's Affordable Care Act, using it as a reason to close down the entire government for over two weeks. It seemed as if Cruz listened to no one else during those trying times, and then when it was all over and done, he said, "I won't be surprised if there is another one." What? Is Cruz deaf, as he seems to not have heard a single word coming out of the mouths of others in even his own party?
Perhaps he has too much wax in his ears, and if so, an excellent gift for him this year would be the WaxVac Ear Cleaner. That'll clean you right out.
State Senator Wendy Davis
Wendy Davis definitely made her mark this year. After standing on the Texas Senate floor nearly 13 hours to filibuster an anti-choice bill that would affect all Texas women, Davis made headlines across the country. The act pushed her into the spotlight and helped to spearhead her current run for governor. But we can't forget those pink sneakers that kept her going through the 13-hour stand-a-thon. Who knows if this will have to happen again, and so Davis probably needs a solid pair of sneaker inserts from her Secret Santa. State Senator John Whitmire
Senator Whitmire comes in and out of the public fold every once in a while, most recently for reforms made to the Texas juvenile justice system. But in 2011, Whitmire made headlines for becoming outraged over the last meal ordered by death row inmate Lawrence Russell Brewer, who was a convicted murderer of James Byrd Jr. Brewer apparently ordered "two chicken steaks, a triple bacon cheeseburger, fried okra, three fajitas, a pizza, a pint of ice cream and a slab of peanut butter fudge with crushed peanuts," and then refused to eat any of it. Whitmire was pissed, and put the kibosh on lavish last meals.
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This is an extravagant last meal indeed and unnecessary for any inmate to demand, but it also might be something you can get for pretty cheap at Luby's with a sweet $15 gift card!
Judge Ed Emmett
Houston's own Judge Ed Emmett has had his fair share of news-making activities over the years, but his latest is a war against gambling machines. Emmett says that the machines, which can be found in corner shops and gas stations, cause trouble and promote violent behavior.
What better gift to give the judge than his very own slot machine that doubles as a piggy bank? You can have fun and learn how to save money at the same time!