Senate Bill 138, the proposal to subvert the Electoral College with a multi-state compact to assign Electors by the national popular vote, was tabled Monday. Apparently the National Popular Vote backers asked for tabling, as they plan to take their proposal to the people (watch for a ballot initiative).

I wasn't terribly excited about the proposal when it surfaced in the legislative hopper last month. Assinging our electoral votes in accordance with the national popular vote doesn't seem to promise much change in the status quo. I also couldn't help wondering if there wasn't some partisan angle, some selfish gain someone had in mind.

Leave it to the backers to prove my suspicions right. Saul Anuzis came to testify on behalf of SB 138. Anuzis is a former Michigan GOP chair and twice candidate for Republican National Committee chair. He got beat in 2009 by Michael Steele*... and I would humbly suggest that it takes a real yutz to get beat by Michael Steele.

Anuzis's yutzery was on full display before Senate State Affairs Monday. His testimony made clear that he thinks the national popular vote compact would be a great idea because the GOP could spend less money in big urban media markets like New York (read: blue states) and get more bang for the buck advertising in small rural markets like South Dakota (read: red states).

Mmm... tell me you want to subvert the Electoral College to benefit one party's campaign agenda. Sure, that'll win votes.

And then Anuzis said this:

There's two kinds of people in this country: Democrats and Americans. And all we're looking for is to make sure all the Americans have a good chance of voting [Saul Anuzis, testimony to South Dakota Senate State Affairs, approx. 57:20, 2011.02.14].

Now he prefaced this by saying that he usually gets in trouble for telling this joke. He then proceeded to indicate that he thought he could tell this joke anyway "since I'm out of state." Of course: South Dakota has no media, no Democrats, no legislators interested in serious testimony on a significant cession of state authority rather than partisan jokes on valuable committee time. Mr. Anuzis followed his joke by saying, "With all due respects to our Democratic member, I'm just havin' fun." Again, yes, because we hold those hearings and put off hearing other vital legislation so wealthy Republicans from Michigan can come have fun in our State Capitol.

Senator Jason Frerichs, the only Democrat on the panel, took exception to Mr. Anuzis's wisecrack. The good senator called the wisecracks "ridiculous" and suggested the committee chamber was no place for "cheap shots... at Democrats." (Agreed: that's what blogs are for!) Mr. Anuzis did subsequently apologize "for my snarky partisan comment."

Now I certainly say some nasty things about various Republicans (especially those who block me on Twitter and threaten to fire 18 Madison teachers). But I am unlikely to characterize even the dumbest Republicans as not being Americans... certainly not in formal testimony before my State Legislature.

Saul---can I call you Saul, Saul? all your Republican chums on the committee did---no matter how much our State Senate might look like a Republican Chamber of Commerce meeting, the next time you come testify, you might want to leave the stand-up routine at home. And if you bring your friends to put an NPV initiative on our ballot, you might want to come with some arguments about how the National Popular Vote compact would actually produce a more fair and free democratic election rather than focusing on the selfish gain one party or even one state might enjoy.

*Bonus snark: Anuzis also got fewer votes than Steele on every ballot featuring both men's names in the 2011 RNC chair election.

**Doubleplus-Bonus Snark: I usually get in trouble when I make this joke in Michigan, but since I'm in South Dakota and I'm not wasting any legislative committee's time, I'll go ahead and tell it anyway:

Does it bother anyone else that Anuzis is an anagram for U.S. Nazi?

With all due respect to the Anuzises (Anuzes?) in the room, I'm just havin' fun here.