Congressman cites Homer Simpson, hockey player on House floor

Rep. Mike Quigley is firing back at a report claiming Congress speaks at nearly a full grade level lower than it did in 2005 — and he’s citing Homer Simpson to do it.

The Illinois Democrat busted out a plethora of super-smart-sounding words as he took to the House floor last week to (playfully) dispute the congressional speech study from the Sunlight Foundation that found America’s lawmakers speak at a grade level of about 10.6.

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Quigley declared, “Mr. Speaker, I rise, as doth the golden orb pulled across the sky each day by the chariot of Apollo, to decry an ignominy perpetuated on this body by the captious Sunlight Foundation,” before acknowledging, in more layman’s terms, “Mr. Speaker, the Sunlight Foundation says we talk dumb.”

The ice hockey-rink regular argued that he believes the findings to be “fatuous,” saying, “There has been no deliquescence of congressional discourse. Speak we not of life, liberty and hockey? In the words of Francois de la Rochefoucauld, who I believe was a defenseman for the original Canucks, ‘True eloquence consists in saying all that should be said, and that only.’ ”

The congressman even took a few friendly jabs at his predecessor, and President Obama’s former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D), who’s known for his profanity-laced outbursts: “That is not to say there have not been errors in eloquence. But soft! What F-bombs from Rahm’s office breaks?”

Quigley ended his forensic fusillade by mentioning the doughnut-eating patriarch of “The Simpsons,” saying, 

“ ‘Facts are meaningless,’ notes Homer Simpson. ‘You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!’ ”

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, responded to Quigley’s remarks in a blog post on its website. Senior fellow Lee Drutman wrote, “I must admit, sir, your clever references do sparkle and shine … Consider me besotted, bemused and bewitched by your rapier wit (not to mention your fulsome GRE-worthy lexicon).”

But alas, Quigley’s SAT-worthy vocab failed to impress the Sunlight Foundation’s speech calculator. It determined his comments came in even lower than the rest of Congress — at a 9.8 grade level!

Drutman noted the test’s limitations, saying it “makes no accounting for all your fancy words.”

He then summed it up with his own “Simpsons” reference, “Or rather, in the eternal words of our apparently shared favorite philosopher, Homer Simpson, ‘I am so smart, I am so smart, S-M-R-T — I mean, S-M-A-R-T.’ ”