adBlockCheck

Developmentally Disabled Senator Wants To Be Treated Like Any Other Lawmaker

Top Headlines

Politics

Ted Cruz Dressed For Campaign Rally By Swarm Of Loyal Vermin

INDIANAPOLIS—In what has reportedly become a daily routine on the campaign trail, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz stood alone in the center of his hotel suite Tuesday morning where he was carefully dressed and groomed by a swarm of loyal vermin.

How The GOP Plans To Stop Trump

In response to Donald Trump’s growing presidential primary lead, here’s how Republican Party leaders are ramping up efforts to prevent him from getting enough delegates to win the nomination outright.

It Unclear Why Thousands Of Loud, Chanting Trump Supporters Gathering Outside Arena In Iowa

‘There’s No Event Here, But They Keep Coming,’ Say Concerned Stadium Staff

DES MOINES, IA—Noting that the Republican presidential candidate had not announced any plans to visit Iowa since the state held its caucus 11 weeks ago, baffled sources reported Wednesday that it remains unclear why thousands of loud, cheering Donald Trump supporters are gathering outside the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Obama Caught Trying To Jump White House Fence

WASHINGTON—The White House was briefly placed on lockdown Friday morning after “an addled and emotionally distraught” President Obama was reportedly caught trying to scale the North Lawn fence, the third such attempt this year, Secret Service officials confirmed.

FBI Convinces George Clooney To Wear Wire During Clinton Fundraising Dinner

SAN FRANCISCO—In an effort to gather evidence in their investigation of the presidential candidate’s alleged misuse of her private email server when she served as secretary of state, members of the FBI reportedly convinced actor George Clooney to wear a hidden listening device Friday night while attending a campaign fundraising dinner with Hillary Clinton.

The Pros And Cons Of Voter ID Laws

Many states are pushing for stricter voter identification policies at the polls, while critics argue such requirements are unconstitutional and used as a means of voter suppression. Here are some pros and cons of voter ID laws.

Shimmering Immaculate Republican Candidate Appears Before GOP Officials

‘It’s Him,’ Stunned Conservative Leaders Mutter

WASHINGTON—Explaining how they froze in place and stared up at the miraculous vision in rapt wonder, members of the Republican Party leadership reported that the shimmering image of an immaculate, ideal GOP presidential candidate appeared before them for a brief moment Friday and hovered in front of the party’s headquarters in Washington.

Trump Catches Self Briefly Believing Own Campaign Rhetoric

‘Whoa, That Was Scary For A Second There,’ Says Candidate

BETHPAGE, NY—Admitting that he was overcome with terror after realizing what he had done, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told reporters he caught himself briefly believing his own campaign rhetoric during a rally Wednesday night.

Cow Ted Cruz Milking In Wisconsin Photo Op Only Giving Curdled, Foul Liquid

ALMA, WI—Saying the putrid stench of rancid dairy had caused numerous onlookers to gag and rush out of the barn, sources at Noll’s Family Farm confirmed Monday that only a thin stream of curdled, spoiled liquid was emerging from the cow that Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz was attempting to milk during a campaign photo op.

How A Contested Convention Would Work

With the Republican Party potentially headed to its convention without a clear-cut presidential nominee, The Onion answers common questions about how a contested convention would work.
End Of Section
  • More News
Up Next
TV Listings
Just Like Everything Else!: Fox 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. ABC Pete's wife is still on him about building that darn shed, these kids are going to be the death of Sheila and Dave, and the hot next-door neighbor is up in EVERYBODY'S business! Sunday nights on ABC couldn't be any more familiar!

Special Coverage

Originality

Surprises

  • Email From Mom Sent At 5:32 A.M.

    DENVER—After waking up and finding the message waiting on his computer, local man Drew Swanson confirmed to reporters Thursday that his mother had sent him an email at 5:32 a.m.

Developmentally Disabled Senator Wants To Be Treated Like Any Other Lawmaker

WASHINGTON, DC—When he was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2000, Sen. Freddy Rigby (D-NE) knew he had a tough road ahead of him. Developmentally disabled since birth, Rigby's controversial election provoked reactions ranging from misty-eyed admiration to outrage. But to supporters and detractors alike, this very special senator makes one simple request: to be treated just like any other lawmaker.

An excited Rigby (center) poses with Attorney General John Ashcroft and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

"I like my job as senator!" said Rigby, speaking from his Georgetown-area group home Monday. "I do good work! I sign everything myself—no stamp! I have a lot of friends in the Senate. Trent [Lott], John [Warner], Charles [Schumer], Dianne [Feinstein], Russ [Feingold], Wayne [Allard], Tom [Daschle]. They're all invited to my house for popcorn! I'm just as good as them, and I want to be treated just like normal."

Rigby, 44, who scored a surprise upset victory over Republican opponent Bruce Linsenmyer in one of the closest elections in Nebraska history, points to his Senate voting record as proof of his qualification to hold public office.

"I sponsored the Everybody Eats Food Bill of 2001, [which makes it illegal for] Americans to go hungry!" Rigby said. "That way, poor people don't have to starve anymore! Lots of mac 'n' cheese... I like that! And I was the first senator [to propose] free weekly field trips to Little Tyrol for the American people. It would be free, 'cause the government would pay for the bus rides!"

Little Tyrol is a recreated Swiss village and amusement park near Lincoln, NE, that Rigby frequents.

"And after the terrorists bombed the Sears Towers, I was the first senator [to draft a resolution calling for professional wrestler] The Rock to go find them and kick their butts!" Rigby said. "Yaay! The Rock!"

In addition to his impressive legislative record, Rigby boasts the best attendance record in the Senate. He is always the first to arrive and the last to leave the Senate chamber, even on days when the legislative body is not in session.

Rigby has also won praise for his concern for the common man.

"At the end of every session, after the other senators have gone home, Freddy will follow me around, asking if he can mop," Capitol custodian Larry Gibson said. "I say, 'Now, come on, Freddy, you're a senator now. You're a lot more important than old Larry here. Why don't you go draft a bill or serve on a committee or something?' He'll usually go away for a while, but then he always comes back carrying a full wastebasket, saying, 'I like to help you, Larry!' He won't leave his limo driver alone, either."

Despite winning the admiration of so many around him, Rigby is not without his critics. A coalition of Democrats and Republicans recently formed out of concern for the senator's ability to hold public office.

"Now, we all like Freddy—everybody in the Senate does," Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) said. "We love the construction-paper vases and desk placemats he made all of us, as well as the way he puts all his senator stuff away in the multi-colored plastic bins in his office at the end of the day. But does that make him qualified to be a legislator? Should he be in the position to cast the deciding vote on a key Medicare-reform bill? It's just not fair to the American people—or to him."

Some on Capitol Hill have recommended that Rigby be paired up with a "buddy senator," who would advise him and wield veto power on his votes. Rigby, however, has rejected the suggestion, pointing to his previous work experience at an Omaha-area Wendy's as ample evidence of his competence.

"I am just as good as anyone else! I am just as good as anyone else!" Rigby said. "They let Strom Thurmond be senator, and he's 200 years old! I like representing the great state of Nebraska! Nebraska is number one!"

It is clear, however, that the constant questions regarding Rigby's competence have taken their toll on the senator's self-esteem. In November 2001, Rigby ran away from Washington.

"People were being mean to me, and I was very, very sad," Rigby said. "So I ranned [sic] away. I took the bus all by myself for the first time. I saw a Waffle House, and they fed me for free when I said I was a senator. Then they called the police to pick me up. I got to ride in a police car! I've ridden in a police car and a limo and a fire truck [since becoming a senator]!"

Nearly 36 hours after fleeing the nation's capital, Rigby was found by police in Alexandria, VA, and promptly escorted back to Washington. Accompanying the police were several concerned members of the senator's staff and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who befriended Rigby while the two served on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

"Freddy thought people were mad at him and didn't like him, and he was being a little grumpy with the police and his staffers," Boxer said. "So on the car ride back home, I explained to Freddy that there will always be people who won't understand why he's a senator, but that he should know that it's okay to be different. I told him he should be proud of himself and the work he's done in the Senate. That seemed to calm him down quite a bit. He also really seemed to like the Koosh slingshot I gave him."

Janet Fjelstad, a Columbus, NE, legal secretary and longtime Rigby supporter, attributed the senator's improbable rise to "the power of unconditional love."

"People who think developmentally disabled people should be kept out of public office don't understand just how much these very special folks have to offer us," Fjelstad said. "Fortunately, Freddy has a lot of friends—the thousands of people who elected him to the Omaha City Council, then the Omaha mayorality, then the Nebraska Senate, then the U.S. Senate."

Continued Fjelstad: "Many of them were once prejudiced, too. They'd say, 'Why should we give a retarded guy the power to make decisions on vital issues of national import?' But in the end, Freddy's sunny personality, infectious grin, and insistence on making a crayon drawing for every constituent—whether they voted for him or not—won most of his critics over. For the first time, it forced people to seriously question conventional definitions of intelligence and competence. After all, when was the last time a politician engaged your mind and touched your heart?"

Unfazed by the lingering doubts of some, Rigby reaffirmed his commitment to represent the people of Nebraska to the best of his abilities.

"I try hard!" Rigby said. "I'm the hardest worker at my group home! Except for Josh. He works at Popeye's, and he always brings home chicken and biscuits and gravy! I wish I could bring home chicken from my job."

Sign up For The Onion's Newsletter

Give your spam filter something to do.

X Close