Grapevine: Is Congress getting dumber?

Study reports language level decline among lawmakers


And now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine...

Birth Battle

Arizona's Secretary of State Ken Bennett says he's been asking for two months for Hawaiian officials to prove President Obama was born there.

Hawaiian officials won't budge until Bennett satisfies a number of requirements and both sides disagree about whether he's actually done it.

Bennett says he might remove President Obama from the ballot in Arizona if the proof doesn't arrive from Hawaii soon, a move Democratic critics say is politically calculated and aimed at capturing support from a fringe group of Republicans as Bennett weighs a run for governor.

Bennett says he's not quote -- "a birther" -- but wants to clear up the issue for concerned Arizonans.

Luxury Travel

A number of judiciary employees, including judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals are getting blasted for plans to attend a million-dollar conference in Hawaii in August.

Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions sent a letter stating the Hawaii meeting does not meet, or seem to be in line with the 9th Circuit's own opinion that the budget is tight.

Conference organizers note government funds won't be used for the recreational activities like snorkeling or tennis.

A Circuit and Court of Appeals spokeswoman promised a formal response.

How Sophomoric

Lawmakers talk like teenagers according to a study from the Sunlight Foundation. It analyzed every single word uttered on the floor in the Senate and House finding that the average lawmaker in Congress speaks at a tenth grade level.

That's down from an eleventh grade level in 2005. By comparison, the Constitution is written at a so-called "seventeenth" grade level.

Some see all of this as a dumbing down of language but others claim it's a matter of communicating more effectively.