By SHERMAN FREDERICK
There comes a time when a nation must stand up and say, "Enough is enough. No more degrading political slurs."
Yes, there is such a thing as a pride of lions and a parliament of owls.
But there is absolutely, categorically no such thing as a "congress" of baboons.
We know this because the website Politifact did the research and found that while a group of baboons can sometimes be called a rumpus, the more accepted term is a troop.
A joke email started it all when the anonymous writer asserted that "congress" is not only the right term for a gathering of baboons, it by extension explains quite a lot about Congress. (Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.)
Politifact smelled a plague of rats. So journalists there delved into this most important political language issue.
Setting the record straight no doubt came much to the relief of baboons everywhere.
Unlike baboons, the reputation of Congress has never been held in lower regard. At the end of last year, Gallup polled the approval rating for Congress at 11 percent.
Think about it -- 11 percent! Public support for legalized marijuana would poll better than 11 percent. Heck, public support for legalized heroin would do better than that.
Besides, what did baboons do to merit comparison to the U.S. Congress?
When baboons gather, they do so for a purpose and actually get things done. Baboon leaders lead the troop to food, water and the pursuit of baboon happiness.
Can Congress do that? Not lately.
Most days last year, Congress did nothing but sit on its collective haunches. And when it actually did something, it made matters worse and the people far less happy.
The House passes bills the Senate won't move on. And the Senate passes bills that the House won't move on. This is normal "activity" for Congress.
House Speaker John Boehner can't control the more conservative part of his majority. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can't control his own tongue, thus making the men the least effective partnership for the reputation of Congress since Anthony Weiner bought a BlackBerry.
The do-nothing Congress created a supercommittee to do something. It did supernothing. Budgets and other big issues get kicked down the road, 60 days at a time. It's no way to run a country.
It's time for good people to do the right thing and just say no to tarnishing the image of baboons. Baboons are not U.S. senators and representatives. For the sake of future generations of baboons, let's put an end to this unfair linkage.
If we don't, the damage could be immeasurable to baboon culture. For example:
-- An adolescent baboon asks out the good-looking babe-oon in the next tree, only to be taunted as having the social graces and personality of Harry Reid. Would his self-esteem ever recover?
-- A baboon harem harrumphs about their male's flirtatious behavior at the troop holiday party. They tell him they won't be "John Ensigned."
-- Overheard at the morning baboon head-scratching session: "Did you hear about the facial work she had done? It was a disaster." "Was it a Nancy Pelosi disaster?" "Way worse than Nancy. It was Joe Biden grotesque. She's going to sue the doctor's ischial callosities off."
So let's get it straight. It's a troop of baboons, a rhumba of rattlesnakes, a bed of oysters, a bloat of hippopotami and a murder of crows. A gathering of congresscritters is a congress.
The other animals don't want to trade.
Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, writes a column for Stephens Media.