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Here they are, as quickly as I could compile them: the official 2007 SOTU ovation statistics. Congressmen, who can apparently not restrain themselves from jumping like jack-in-the-boxes out of their chairs and applauding mindlessly, turned in another exemplary performance this year, despite my earlier plea for them to give it a rest.

To most of the civilized world, the weird tradition of overzealous applause in the U.S. Congress seems hilariously moronic. The president frequently slows his cadence and stresses words at the end of a sentence to cue his audience it's time to applaud: "Blah, blah, blah, blah, and - our - future - is - secure." He employed that device fewer times this year than last, so the applause, however excessive, appeared more natural.

How do the applause statistics stack up this year compared to 2006?

Year    # Applause Breaks    Total Applause Time   % of Total Speech
2006          65                          15:10.280 minutes            29%
2007          62                          14:23.191 minutes            29%

Last year, the president spoke for 52 minutes, and was interrupted 65 times by applause that occupied a full 29% of his speech. This year he spoke for 50 minutes and was interrupted 62 times.

Here is the 2007 raw applause data, from the moment Bush was introduced until the last word of the state of the union speech:

  1. 00:00:16.469 (introduction)
  1. 00:00:26.328 ("Madam Speaker")
  1. 00:00:19.187 (second Pelosi)
  1. 00:00:18.703 (Tim Johnson)
  1. 00:00:07.656 (Democrat majority)
  1. 00:00:07.563 (keep faith)
  1. 00:00:06.969 (cross the aisle)
  1. 00:00:10.672 (more enterprise)
  1. 00:00:15.250 (balance budget)
  1. 00:00:11.969 (no tax increase)
  1. 00:00:04.375 (met goal of reduction)
  1. 00:00:06.406 (eliminate deficit)
  1. 00:00:06.672 (balance budget)
  1. 00:00:13.750 (earmarks)
  1. 00:00:03.719 (entitlements)
  1. 00:00:09.672 (choose different schools)
  1. 00:00:07.266 (special help for students)
  1. 00:00:07.172 (reauthorize No Child Left Behind)
  1. 00:00:17.203 (affordable health care)
  1. 00:00:05.890 (private insurance)
  1. 00:00:09.110 (tax deductions for insurance)
  1. 00:00:08.469 (health savings accounts)
  1. 00:00:06.516 (association health plans)
  1. 00:00:07.719 (better medicial info)
  1. 00:00:14.828 (medical liability reform)
  1. 00:00:13.516 (best decisions by patients & doctors)
  1. 00:00:09.859 (temporary worker program)
  1. 00:00:08.609 (no excuse for violating law)
  1. 00:00:07.594 (melting pot)
  1. 00:00:07.204 (without amnesty)
  1. 00:00:16.640 (comprehensive immigration reform)
  1. 00:00:09.328 (alternative power)
  1. 00:00:06.297 (biodiesel)
  1. 00:00:06.094 (ethanol)
  1. 00:00:17.234 (reduce gas consumption)
  1. 00:00:16.063 (goal for alternative fuel usage)
  1. 00:00:09.390 (double capacity of petroleum reserve)
  1. 00:00:21.062 (challenge of global climate change)
  1. 00:00:14.391 (up/down votes)
  1. 00:00:18.891 (take fight to enemy)
  1. 00:00:29.641 (stopping terrorists)
  1. 00:00:22.375 (protect - the - American - people)
  1. 00:00:17.344 (for our own security, we must)
  1. 00:00:09.672 (Iraqi show of hope and solidarity)
  1. 00:00:10.219 (our own security at risk)
  1. 00:00:21.609 (turn events toward victory)
  1. 00:00:19.906 (find terrorists and clear them out)
  1. 00:00:19.578 (spare - American - people - from - this - danger)
  1. 00:00:24.141 (support troops in field)
  1. 00:00:07.235 (armed forces ready)
  1. 00:00:16.219 (increase military size by 92,000)
  1. 00:00:16.875 (no nukes for Iran)
  1. 00:00:07.625 (independent Palestine)
  1. 00:00:08.891 (nuke-free Korea)
  1. 00:00:18.500 (Darfur and others)
  1. 00:00:15.562 (AIDS in Africa)
  1. 00:00:14.625 (combat malaria and AIDS)
  1. 00:00:06.469 (debt relief)
  1. 00:00:30.188 (Dikembe Mutombo)
  1. 00:00:22.109 (Julie Aigner-Clark)
  1. 00:00:38.844 (Wesley Autrey)
  1. 00:00:33.859 (Sgt. Tommy Reiman)

The introductory applause was substantially less this year than last (16 vs. 30 seconds). Speaker Pelosi received more applause than the president.

Some of this year's oddest applause moments: Private insurance got a rousing round of applause, a hat tip and a wink to insurance industry lobbyists. Biodiesel and ethanol, perennial favorites, each received 6 seconds of applause, but neither did as well as the immensely popular strategic petroleum reserve, which garnered 9 seconds of applause.

While Congress made some minor gains in controlling its applausal instincts this year, major improvements are still needed. There's always next year . . .

Originally posted to cadejo4 on Tue Jan 23, 2007 at 07:29 PM PST.

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