Christmas in DC: Some Senators Get Coal in Stockings

Tuesday, 13 Dec 2011 01:50 PM

By Paul Scicchitano

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An empty box re-gifted, coal carvings in the shape of a donkey and elephant — it’s beginning to feel like Christmas again in the nation’s capital.

Senators exchanged an assortment of creative gifts on Monday in a “Secret Santa” that was billed as a bipartisan event, reports Fox News.

Led by Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., most of the holiday tidings came with a theme appropriate to the states of the 61 participating senators.

Of course West Virginia, known for its abundance of Christmas anthracite, enjoys something of an advantage in holiday gatherings such as these.

"With the Senate in a deadlock, with 8 percent approval ratings, what we deserve is a lump of coal. ... We should be working in a bipartisan way," chided Joe Manchin in a gift card to fellow Democrat, Chuck Schumer, reports Fox.

And, perhaps with a wink in his eye and a twist of his head, Manchin of West Virginia brought his New York colleague a tiny donkey and elephant carved from the stuff that is traditionally reserved for only the naughty.

"Look! Carved out of coal!" declared Schumer, proudly displaying his gift.

Some would argue that the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate deserves nothing more this holiday season, but the exchange was meant in the spirit of good fun.

But in a gesture that is arguably like giving snow to elves, Colorado Sen. Mark Udall gave Manchin some coal from his home state — along with a six-pack of “Snow Day” beer and hiking socks.

Manchin cried, “coal” as if he had struck a vein in the Mansfield Room not far from the Senate floor, according to Fox.

Some senators openly breached the $10 gift price ceiling — perhaps assuming it didn’t really apply to them.

That wasn’t the case for Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who gave a re-gifted empty popcorn box to Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, a fellow Democrat.

"Look, I think we have to all tighten our belts ... because of the European debt crisis," explained the chairman of the Banking Committee.

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