Sure it's hot — but it's also a moist heat.
The dreaded month of August has arrived in Washington — the time of year when the nation's capital begins to feel more like a sauna than the seat of government. It's not unusual for the thermometer to crack 100 in August and it’s not unusual for the humidity to make it feel like its 120 or 130 degrees — or higher. It is a miserable, combination of heat and heavy moisture laden air that sucks the very life force from your body. It is damp, dank, and sweaty. Many people say the heat here in August is oppressive. My dictionary defines oppressive as "overwhelming or depressing to the spirit or senses." That about sums it up.
"I don't know it's officially true it's built on a swamp," says Tom Price, author of the Irreverent Guide to Washington, "but it was built in a very low land area along the confluence of two rivers and lots of wetlands. So there is lots of humidity, wetness, bugs, things like that."
That's why any person with a brain cell working leaves Washington in August. All three branches of government pretty much close up shop. President Bush (search) will spend most of August on the scorched plains of Crawford, rather than deal with the oven-like environs of Washington. Supreme Court (search)... gone till October. Congress... outta here.
There was a time when Congress left town in early spring, but air conditioning — introduced on Capitol Hill (search) in 1929 — changed all that.
"Before air conditioning it was very difficult to work in Washington in the summer," says Price, "Congress had a very strong incentive to get the heck out of here as soon as possible in July and August."
Maybe not all technological advances are a good thing.
About the only folks who choose to come to Washington in August are the hardy tourists who clog up the town with their buses and visit the sacred monuments wearing tank tops and halter tops. Obviously many are unknowingly suffering the effects of heat stroke, because they are in complete denial. The folks I spoke with this week insist the weather is "no problem."
To add to the misery inflicted by the weather, it is also a time when digging up news is difficult. News in Washington depends on sources, but all the good and smart sources left town a week ago. The smart Washington reporters also book time off in August. I was smart enough to ask, but not quick enough to receive. Other members of FOX Team Washington filed their vacation requests before mine. Oh, well someone has to stick around and protect the public's right to know.
I'm sure this Sunday it will be hot where you are. So here's an idea, turn up the AC, turn on “Weekend Live” and relax. While you cool your jets (really, the only sensible thing to do in during the dog days of summer) we'll fill you in on everything you need to know about what's going on in the world around you. You'll learn, you'll laugh — you'll walk away enriched.
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Brian Wilson is a congressional correspondent for FOX News and anchor of the Sunday edition of "Weekend Live."