As an institution, you can't get much less respect from the public than the U.S. Congress does. Ask people why and they'll talk about under-the-table deals, lobbyists and in general not doing a whole lot to fix everyday problems of the working man. And that's too bad, because that's ignoring the fact that sometimes that shit gets truly ridiculous.
And we're talking "drunken bar brawl" ridiculous here.
6Congressman Lyon Yields the Floor with Congressman Griswold's face
There's a lot of tough talk on the floor of the House of Representatives, but how often do these loudmouths actually back it up with their fists? Almost never. Almost.
This brings us to the skirmish between congressmen Roger Griswold of Connecticut and Matthew Lyon of Vermont on Feb. 15, 1798. It all started when Griswold started pushing Lyon around by making frequent -- and at the time hilarious -- remarks about Lyon having to go into battle with a wooden sword, which back then was a way to accuse somebody of being a shitty soldier (sort of like asking a cop if he carries a toy gun).
"Yes, as a matter of fact, and I'll thank you not to make a fuss of it."
Defending your manhood was a big deal on the floor of Congress back in those days, so Lyon replied that he had been in many a fight with people from Griswold's state. Griswold's answer ("with your wooden sword?") was followed by Lyon spitting in Griswold's face.
It was on.
Despite having just mocked the man about that whole "wooden sword" business, Griswold immediately rushed for the unarmed Lyon with a hickory walking stick. Lyon was subsequently forced to endure the humiliating experience we all know of being clobbered by a piece of wood while at work.
However, the man's presumably cocaine-heightened 18th-century senses worked just as well for him as the Force. Lyon rushed for a nearby fireplace and equipped himself with a pair of iron tongs, which turned the tables of the battle, to the delight of the Vermont delegation.
The dude in the armchair appears to be having the time of his life.
The two were broken up but continued the fight a few minutes later in the halls outside the House chamber. Despite Lyon catching Griswold unarmed this time around, the reports show Griswold undoubtedly won the fight.