Max Baucus can't catch a break. He seems to have played a genuinely key role in crafting the bailout legislation that finally passed on Friday, but nobody seems to care.
Early on, Jon Tester got some national play for saying, approximately, that he could understand how a financial crisis might sneak up on a dirt farmer like him, but how did it sneak up on people who are paid to watch that kind of stuff?
Then after the Senate vote this week, I saw Tester on "Hardball," explaining why he opposed the bill. At one point, Chris Matthews slipped up and said that the Republican next to Tester (whose name I should remember but don't) had voted against the position of his party's presidential candidate. He hadn't: He and McCain both voted for the bill; it was Tester who crossed up his presidential candidate. Everybody got a big laugh at Matthews' expense, and nobody seemed to enjoy it more than Tester, with his trademark easy grin.
The only time Tester slipped may actually have made him more likable. Matthews asked if he would voted for the bill if the vote had been close enough that it would have mattered. Tester seemed to have trouble understanding the question, but came across not as if he was too dumb to get it, but as if he couldn't understand why anybody would think he would vote for a bill he opposed out of political expediency.
I flipped to Fox News, where various congressmen were taking turns stepping up to the mike to give reporters their takes on the result. Baucus was second in line; the guy in front of him (sorry, I forgot his name, too) actually gave Baucus credit for helping to craft the compromise. But when it was Baucus' turn to step up to the mike, the network cut away.
Quickly, I flipped to CNN, which was showing the same feed, delayed by a few seconds. There was the same guy, handing Baucus credit again, and there was Baucus, waiting his turn to speak. The guy finished, Baucus stepped to the mike, and the network cut away.
This morning I was listening to talk radio on KBLG. The host (not Dave Rye, but that other guy, whose name I also have, to my shame and disgrace, forgotten) announced that Jon Tester was on the phone. He took the call, and we heard weakly, "This is Max. Maybe Jon Tester is on another line."