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Dan Burton, Protecting the House From Terrorists (Alone)

Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) is still tilting at windmills, or large fruit as it were. Burton, whose infamous conspiracy theories during the Clinton years earned him the nickname "Watermelon Dan," is at it again.

Last night he tried to offer one of the wackier amendments to the legislative branch appropriations bill - a measure that would order a cost benefit analysis of building a transparent shield around the House chamber to protect members from getting killed.

"What this bill does is it would authorize a study to look at enclosing the chamber, the gallery chamber, with Plexiglas so that somebody can't throw a bomb down on the floor and kill a lot of us," Burton explained in testimony before the House Rules Committee.

The committee, which sets debate time and decides which amendments may be made in order to legislation on the House floor, rejected Burton's measure despite the terrifying, albeit remote, possibility he described.

In making his case before the Rules Committee, Burton laid out in great detail - in a public meeting, for the record - how a terrorist "could come in and kill half of the members of Congress right now."

First, he said, you strap 10 pounds of explosives around your waist. "You could take a detonating device that looks like a watch so you could get through the metal detector," Burton said. "And when everybody was on the floor, as many as you wanted, you could put that into the plastic explosive, toss it out on the floor, and there is no way you would lose half of us if we were on the floor, at least, or more. I don't know how much damage it would do."

The solution? Enclosing the House chamber with Plexiglas, of course. "They do it in the Knesset in Israel," Burton said.

Before rejecting his amendment, members of the committee stared at Burton dumbfounded, according to sources in the room, as if wondering to themselves how to delicately explain to the Indiana Republican that he may be more in need of Xanax than Plexiglas.

Burton, for those who don't recall, is the lawmaker who was so determined to prove Vince Foster was murdered that he reenacted the crime he imagined, with a gun in his backyard and a cantaloupe standing in for Foster's head. And this is where we'd like to correct the historical record once and for all.

Many accounts of the incident say Burton used a pumpkin; others say it was a watermelon. But a former aide to the congressman assures the Sleuth that Burton used a cantaloupe to try to disprove Foster's suicide, which makes sense, since the melon is much closer to the size of a human head than either a watermelon or a pumpkin.

As for Burton's latest theory about how a terrorist might blow up the House of Representatives, no one on the Rules Committee, including Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), the panel's ranking Republican, seemed as alarmed as Burton had hoped they might be.

Dreier said he didn't like the idea of walling off the People's House. "I mean, I love being able to look up there and see these wonderful, wonderful people that the president has as guests in the gallery when he is delivering his State of the Union message, and we have others who are there," Dreier said.

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) agreed he didn't want to see visitors to the gallery sitting behind Plexiglas.

"But my whole point is there ought to be some obstruction between the gallery and the members on the floor, because if they throw something down on that floor, they are going to get a lot of us," Burton interjected.

"I take your point, but I disagree in the final analysis," Hastings said. "I think when people set out to hurt you and they operate in the shadows, that they will figure a way. You show me a law, I will show you a loophole. You show me security, I will show you a way around it."

Researcher Alice Crites contributed to this report

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 19, 2009; 1:31 PM ET
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I recommend that Dan Burton be placed inside a Plexiglass box, with holes of-course so the poor sop can breath.

Posted by: hayden1 | June 19, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

with an intern being implicated in a shooting...
I'm sure thugs will soon walk the halls of congress...

Posted by: DwightCollins | June 20, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

Darling Dan used a cantaloupe to buttress his claim that Vince Foster's death was actually murder rather than suicide. The cantaloupe was supposed to stand in for Foster's head.
No need to use any piece of fruit to stand in for the fruit that already IS Burton's own head.
Why doesn't someone WITH a brain lock that insane creature up in a state hospital?

Posted by: DoctorB | June 21, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Will the voters of Burton's district ever wise up and retire him? He has screwed this country in many ways for years, and he is a disgrace to his state.

Posted by: ejmurphy414 | June 22, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: starkdawgs | June 22, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Since I've never been inside the House of Representatives I don't know what has/is being done to protect the members from their disgruntled constituients. After the incident when Puerto Rican terrorists wounded several members back in President Truman's administration I have heard there was bullet-proof glass seperating the galleries from the floor.
Am I wrong, or did the members have that removed?

Posted by: hpyost | June 22, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

starkdawgs may not realize that in 55 years, security around the Capital building has changed. Try getting anywhere near the place with a gun in your pocket.
Members of Congress are public figures. If this fact frightens him, maybe he should reconsider running for reelection. Burton is one of the yahoos who supported the Iraqi invasion, sending our young men and women to die in war based on lies. He needs to cinch up his belt and accept a little risk in his life. Maybe he should ask the NRA to give him an AK47 to carry around. After all don't guns make you feel safer? A typical right winger; sin cahones.

Posted by: 59corvette | June 22, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I believe it would be more cost effective to use machines or dogs to sniff out explosives, if that security measure is not already in place.

On a more positive note maybe we could charge people for admission since it would be the world's largest sneeze bar. (unless the Kremlin or the Chinese already have one) This would help fund President Obama's many and manifold spending plans. (if congress agrees with him)

Posted by: wrbpilot | June 22, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

"Burton used a cantaloupe"
Thx for putting more light on this matter of national importance! That's investigative reporting people can believe in.

Posted by: Gray62 | June 23, 2009 8:24 AM | Report abuse

Dan Burton is just another face in the Washington Republican circle jerk illicit sexual excess. Where is Burtons bastard child. Where is the bastard child of Henry Hyde Mr.Catholic.
I suppose the politically correct term is illgitimate. However with the family value crowd, a spade is a spade.

Posted by: scac1 | June 23, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I am ashamed to admit, Dan Burton is my Congressman. He is easily the Worst Member of Congress. His scandals always get swept under the rug, whether it is sexual misconduct, strong-arming lobbyists for "contributions", or just doing things that even led Newt Gingrich to call Burton an "embarrassment".

Our district is so gerrymandered that it would take a Democrat with millions to even have a chance. But Burton now has 4 Republican primary challengers. Maybe, just maybe, someone will rid us of this fool.

Anybody But Dan. Please.

Posted by: fishersdemo | June 23, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Republican newsmakers in the last 10 days are, Gov. Sanford,Senator Ensign, Congressman Burton. Is it no wonder that there is no substance from the party of no.

Posted by: tplocki | June 23, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

We get the government we deserve. If the good folks of Indiana vote for this fruitcake, then they have to live with him.

Posted by: sbissell3 | June 23, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Looks to me like someone is afraid to put their lives on the line for this great country.

Posted by: WhosRight | June 23, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

(Sigh)...This is a joke, right..?? Is this guy running about "three quarts low"...??

Posted by: gene6 | June 23, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Someone used the phrase: "...I'm sure thugs will soon walk the halls of congress..."

To which Mark Twain might (previously and peremptorily) reply that "America has no indigenous criminal class, except Congress".

Or words to that effect.

Posted by: Observer44 | June 23, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Anybody wonder WHY the Repuglicans have dug themselves into such a deep hole? As Forrest Gump's Mom was want to say,"Stupid is as stupid does!"

Posted by: asclepious2 | June 23, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes the Sleuth is right on the money Burton should be hung out to dry along with the lady that told us the "CIA lied to her". Pelosi already has that plexiglass shield, it's the Democratic party.

Posted by: masssgt | June 24, 2009 5:26 AM | Report abuse

Maybe congress should commission a study of Rep. Burton's district to determine why they would elect such a nut-case in the first place. How did this guy get elected to congress in the first place, let alone, re-elected? How many terms? Wake up, Indiana!

Posted by: old_sarge | June 24, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Dan Burton is the nut who pushed to impeach president Clinton when he(Burton)has a son by a woman not his wife. Only the poor uninformed people in Burton's district would keep sending someone so ignorant back to Washington--no wonder the country os going down the drain.

Posted by: LDTRPT25 | June 24, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: dotto | June 24, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

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