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Headline of the day: Democratic maneuver sends Frist, GOP into apoplexy

That’s how the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s editor titled Dana Milbank’s WaPo column.

In the genteel club that is the United States Senate, Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) had a screaming temper tantrum yesterday.

Minutes after his Democratic counterpart, Harry Reid (Nev.), used a surprise parliamentary maneuver to throw the Senate into a rare closed session, Frist burst from the chamber and approached the cameras in the hallway.

Without counting to 10, as anger-management experts recommend when you are very, very mad, Frist exploded.

“About 10 minutes ago or so, the United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership!” he announced. Never, he said, have “I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution.” Epithets flew from his mouth: “They have no conviction. They have no principles. They have no ideas. This is a pure stunt.”

Frist was now sputtering. “This is an affront to me personally. It’s an affront to our leadership. It’s an affront to the United States of America!” Turning sorrowful, he vowed that “for the next year and a half, I can’t trust Senator Reid.”

“Mr. Leader,” one stunned journalist observed, “I don’t remember you being so exercised over something before.”

You’ve never seen me in heart surgery,” the senator, a transplant specialist, replied. Dr. Frist’s patients — not to mention the Tennessee medical licensing board — may be surprised to learn that he had operating-room rage.

Perhaps people should breathe a sigh of relief that the man’s not in the operating room anymore.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding