Lawmakers Flyin' High

Commentary by Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith

There's a huge piece in the Washington Post today about members of Congress flying on corporate jets. Some of these guys fly on them a lot. Like dozens of times a year.

And can you blame them? I've been on these planes a couple of times and it is very cool. No long lines at the airport. No endless waits for baggage. It's luxury all the way.

There's nothing illegal about flying on these corporate planes and do you know what? Sometimes the lobbyist for the corporation just happens to be on the plane, too. So Congressman Smith might get an earful of why it would be a good idea to build an interstate through the delicate habitat of the endangered swamp beaver because it will mean hundreds of jobs that won't be shipped to Caminos Dos Chinos.

This is the way Washington works, folks. And I'm not complaining. When I run for Senate I want the same perks.

But here's a suggestion to make the private jet ride a little more productive: If a member of Congress uses a corporate jet he or she must take with them at least two randomly selected constituents.

The congressperson would be gagged so they would actually have to listen. Constituents could freely speak on important issues like the cost of medical care and health insurance, or the fact that the neighbor over the back fence hasn't cut his grass since last summer and no one will do anything about. Or that their Uncle Larry is an illegal alien from Uranus.

Oh great and mighty lawmakers, fly on. Next time, just take us with you.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.