Senate bids farewell to Ben Nelson’s hair

Sen. Ben Nelson’s helmet-like head of hair is the envy of his Capitol Hill colleagues, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

On the Senate floor Monday, Reid launched into a speech paying tribute to the retiring Nebraska Democrat, bidding him a fond farewell and praising his years of public service.

But Reid abruptly digressed away from his prepared remarks. The presiding officer at the time was Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., whose bald head is about as far from Nelson’s as one could imagine.

“I think if the truth were known, many, many senators would be very envious – as I am and I would even think the presiding officer – about that hair of Ben Nelson’s,” Reid said. “I mean that is a mop of real hair. It’s often that people call his office, e-mail the office. They believe he has a toupee. It’s his hair. He’ll pull it for you anytime just to show you that it’s real.”


Indeed, Nelson’s ‘do has been the subject of much joking over the years and earned him the nickname “Hair Force One.”

Clearly, it has made an impression on Reid, who just kept waxing on and on about the Nebraskan’s thick mane.

“I mean he has hair like a 15-year-old, Mr. President, and so I have to acknowledge I am a little envious of his hair,” Reid said.

He went on to talk about Nelson’s love of hunting. Nelson famously took Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on a trip to shoot pheasants.

“Ben Nelson still boasts about that – that he was able to bring Schumer back all in one piece, but more important than that the people who went hunting with him came back in one piece,” Reid said.

Nelson has claimed that Schumer actually bagged a couple birds on that trip, Reid said.

“A lot of us have some trouble accepting that, but that’s what Ben says and I’ll take him at his word,” Reid said.

He also praised Nelson’s singing voice, particularly when he recorded the song “Western Town” which Reid quoted from:

“I’m from a western town in Nebraska. Don’t know why I left so long ago. All I know is this western town in Nebraska lives in my heart and in my soul.”

Reid alluded to the difficult spots Nelson often found himself in as one of the most conservative members of the Senate Democrats. The majority leader said he gave Nelson a big hug at his retirement party last week.

“I really care a great deal about him,” Reid said. “He’s made some extremely difficult votes, but he did it because it was the right thing to do. His duty is to country and his conscience.”

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