Finally, Congress Does Something Right

Originally published at Beltway Blogroll

The House adopted a very important resolution yesterday, the most significant in my lifetime. Here’s the text of the measure, H. Res. 938:

Whereas the West Virginia University Mountaineer football team won the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, defeating the University of Oklahoma Sooners by a score of 48 to 28 in Glendale, Arizona, on January 2, 2008;Whereas the Mountaineer football team has been a source of great pride for West Virginians throughout the years;

Whereas the people of West Virginia take their team’s triumphs and setbacks as their own, in times of hardship and prosperity;

Whereas the Mountaineers displayed uncommon intensity and determination in preparing for the challenge of meeting one of the best teams in the country in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl;

Whereas the Mountaineers executed an almost flawless game;

Whereas then-assistant coach Bill Stewart demonstrated true leadership and coaching skill by filling an unexpected coaching void, instilling confidence in his team, and leading them to victory, earning the admiration and gratitude of his fellow West Virginians;

Whereas the Fiesta Bowl most valuable player on offense, Mountaineer quarterback Pat White, gave a brilliant running and passing performance that inspired his teammates, delighted his fans, and frustrated his opponents;

Whereas the Fiesta Bowl most valuable player on defense, Mountaineer linebacker and native West Virginian Reed Williams, led his teammates in an outstanding defensive performance;

Whereas Mountaineer senior fullback Owen Schmitt, through his steady play and gracious post-game words of victory, displayed the best qualities of team play and sportsmanship;

Whereas Mountaineer receiver Tito Gonzales demonstrated outstanding play with a 79-yard touchdown pass and showed a national television audience how important Mountaineer success was to his team and his state;

Whereas Mountaineer freshman tailback Noel Devine gave a spirited and skillful performance worthy of his injured teammate and mentor, record-breaking tailback Steve Slaton;

Whereas the Mountaineers’ offensive line dominated the battle in the trenches, making possible the outstanding performances of White, Devine, Schmitt, receiver Darius Reynaud, kicker Pat McAfee, and the other offensive stars of the day;

Whereas the Mountaineers’ attacking defense forced the Sooner offense to yield the field time and again;

Whereas the Mountaineers finished among the top 10 in college football rankings for three years in a row;

Whereas Mountaineer athletic director Ed Pastilong has instilled in the athletic department of West Virginia University the highest standards of ethics and performance throughout his many years of leadership;

And whereas the Mountaineers and their new head coach Bill Stewart have brought great honor to themselves, their university, and the state of West Virginia: Now, therefore, be it resolved that the House of Representatives:

1) Congratulates the West Virginia University Mountaineer football team for winning the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl;

And 2) commends the team for demonstrating throughout the season the best qualities of teamwork, dedication, and sportsmanship.

Read my sports interludes from November, December and January for the background.

It Took Time, But Now They Call Him ‘Jake The Snake’

WHEELING, W.Va. — Jake Roberts never cared too much for snakes. More often than not, he avoided the scaly reptiles because of an innate sense of fear.

But after years of frustration, he decided it was time to overcome his phobia, so he bought a snake as a pet. “Two weeks later I touched it — and a month later I picked it up,” he said.

Now at age 33, Jake Roberts answers to Jake “The Snake” Roberts, his trademark as a professional wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation. His sidekick and constant companion, Damien, a 15-foot Burmese python, has invoked terror in ring opponents while at the same time thrilled audiences nationwide.

Roberts, anxiously awaiting a feature match with Andre the Giant at the Wheeling Civic Center recently, sipped steaming coffee and spoke candidly about his wrestling career.

A native of Stone Mountain, Ga., he talked with a distinct raspiness in his voice, which no longer retained that familiar Southern drawl. At 6 feet, 5 inches and 250 pounds, Roberts is an intimidating figure even while sitting in a chair.

He wore snakeskin boots and blue tights with a cobra emblem on one leg. Damien lay still in his confined burlap sack, unaware that he would soon be used as a psychological weapon against a terrified 520-pound giant.

Roberts entered professional wrestling about 14 years ago but said he has wrestled only about seven of those years. “I’ve had a lot of down time because of injuries — wrists, ankles, knees, broken bones — and snake bites,” he said.

He pointed to a two-inch scar on his right index finger where Damien had bitten him about three weeks ago. The wound had taken seven stitches to heal. It wasn’t the first time Damien had lashed out at his owner, either.

“I’ve been working with snakes for about six or seven years,” Roberts said. “They don’t make good pets, but they sure are a lot of fun.”

Roberts refused to release Damien from his burlap prison in the brisk backstage temperatures. He may not tremble at the mention of snakes anymore, but he knows not to cross the line.

“They don’t like to sit,” Roberts said. “They don’t take to people too well, and they get very moody, especially when it’s cold.”

Roberts, who never wrestled in high school, said his entrance into professional wrestling was unexpected. “Me and some buddies went to the arena [to watch wrestling] one night, and my buddies said, ‘Hey, you could beat this guy.'”

So he challenged the wrestler. Roberts said he does not remember the wrestler’s name, but he does remember how easily his opponent manhandled him. And so did his friends, who kept reminding Roberts, “Man, he made you look like a dork.”

The rematch was a different story, though. Roberts studied and practiced wrestling moves and started a weightlifting program before seeking revenge.

Today Jake the Snake is one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWF, an organization he has called home for about four years. When an opponent has the advantage, the crowd cheers, “Snake! Snake! Snake!”

Roberts often responds by demolishing foes with the DDT, a move that smashes an opponent’s head to the mat. He further humiliates them with Damien’s assistance.

Jake the Snake has not always been a good guy, though. Fans taunted him when he first came to the WWF. Only the humiliation at the hands of a more evil wrestler, the Honky Tonk Man, changed the tide.

Asked how a wrestler makes the transformation from good to evil, Roberts replied: “I’m always the same guy. When I came up here, people perceived me as being bad because of the things I said. But the people themselves changed [their perception of] me. I never change.”

Roberts said publicity is the name of the game in professional wrestling. Some wrestlers, out of frustration, force the public to change its perception of them to gain more appeal, whether it be good or bad, he said.

If the wrestlers have no public appeal, he said, they don’t get much airtime. And “if you’re not on that tube, man, most of the people forget about you.”

Roberts said wrestling is not always the glamorous world that fans often think it is. “There’s not many nights where you sit back here and say, ‘Hey, I feel like going out there and getting the hell beat out of me,'” he said. “You have guys out there like Andre — he weighs 520 pounds — if he falls on you, it’s going to hurt.

“Once you step into that ring, man, you’re in a different world. That right there puts you on edge. You’re out there alone; the light is on you.”

But wrestling does have its advantages, he said. “Some guys do it for money; that’s why we all do it. What’s hard is staying.”