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Tweeting On The Hill


This post was written by Igor Kossov.

Give legislators BlackBerrys and they suddenly have something to do during a presidential address other than of simply absorbing the president's words and looking dignified.

When they got to their seats last night for the president's speech to a joint session of Congress, numerous members logged into their Twitter accounts and began offering live – and sometimes ill advised – updates.

Some lawmakers, such as Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), were straightforward, The New York Times reports, posting observations such as "Some Republican Senators are standing and clapping, including McCain."

Others used the medium to be snarky. As Politico pointed out, Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) posted this: "Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren't going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour."

And a few minutes later, this retraction: "Disregard that last Tweet from a staffer."

(AP Graphics Bank)
Still others were strictly utilitarian. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) posted that he is "In the House on the Floor six seats from center aisle stage left. Sitting next to Jeff Flake R-AZ. Seventh row."

Few Americans actually read the legislators' tweets. The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that John Culbertson (R-TX) led the pack with 8,216 followers.

However, some tweets did reach a broader audience. In her interview with Senator John McCain, Katie Couric asked a question suggested to her through Twitter:

"Where was the after election John McCain during the election?"

"Its the same," McCain said. "When people say that I say how was I different and they can't identify it."

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