BACKGROUND: Long ago, the filibuster was one of the most dramatic tools in national politics. Popularized in films such as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," the maneuver forced a lawmaker to talk endlessly in order to stop action on the Senate floor.
While the traditional filibuster seems to have fallen by the wayside in the U.S. Congress, it is alive and well in the Missouri General Assembly. And Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Lee's Summit, provided one of the more memorable examples the procedure in early 2007.
At the time, Gov. Matt Blunt decided to nominate Warren Erdman as a curator for the University of Missouri system. In addition to his ties with Sen. Kit Bond, Erdman was a proponent of embryonic stem cell research. While a constitutional amendment passed in 2006 protecting the research from General Assembly intrusion, opponents of the practice promised to mobilize in 2007. And Bartle - a social conservative strongly opposed to both embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights - took the floor to stop Erdman's nomination.
The filibuster was in many ways fruitless, as nobody joined in on Bartle's talkfest. But unlike other filibusters - which get boring within about 10 or 15 minutes - Bartle managed to entertain the audience with stories about his childhood and tips on fashion. He even read aloud negative comments about his venture from the Kansas City Star's political blog.
Although his one-man filibuster made it late into the evening, Bartle ultimately pulled the plug and Erdman was confirmed.
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: As noted above, Bartle managed to make the filibuster interesting for a surprising amount of time. And whether or not you agree with his politics, it does take a bit of fortitude to block a former chief of staff for one of the most powerful Republican lawmakers in the state. Imagine if a Democratic senator five or 10 years from now tried to block the nomination of someone who used to work for Claire McCaskill or Jay Nixon. My guess is that it wouldn't end well.
FUN FACT: Bartle's most impressive legislative feat since I started covering the legislature was probably passing the omnibus judiciary bill earlier this year. After another version of the legislation died on the last day of session, Bartle inserted a huge block of language onto Sen. Jim Lembke's bill that would have restricted punitive damages for public entities. The move made Lembke - a critic of how the judiciary works - a legislative hero ... just for one day.