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John Lamb, Published November 06 2010

Lamb: A new part for Dorgan?

Rightfully so, the media’s focus this past week was on the Republicans’ major gains in the midterm elections.

For example, North Dakota went from all three congressional delegates being Democrats to now having its first Republican senator and representative in nearly 20 years.

In particular, much has been made about John Hoeven’s win as he now is the only senator with a moustache. If nothing else, the election proves the public will support a leader with facial hair, which has to be reassuring to Brad Childress.

(Actually, if Hoeven’s opponent, Tracy Potter, would have won – and that was a BIG if – I believe the Democrat would’ve been the only goateed senator, and a bald one at that.)

As a brother of the brush, I tip my lip-tickler to Mr. Hoeven and wish him well in the whisker-less Washington, D.C. Stay strong with the soup-strainer!

At the same time, I bow my head and say goodbye to one of the most powerful comb-overs in the Senate.

Byron Dorgan will be remembered for his noted years of public service, including nearly 30 years in Congress, the past 18 years in the upper house. His accomplishments include helping open agricultural trade with Cuba, fighting to lower prescription drug costs, advocating for North Dakota’s military bases and leading the way on the Energy and Water Appropriations panel that funds flood control projects, like the one to protect the Red River Valley.

But away from the spotlight he remained a beacon for men who wanted more coverage up top, particularly side to side. Dorgan led by quiet example and presumably with lots of hairspray.

The Weekly Standard lamented the loss of Dorgan’s remaining locks shortly after he announced he would not seek re-election in January. The neoconservative magazine noted that Dorgan’s departure leaves Carl Levin, D-Mich., as the “most impressive” senatorial sidesweep.

The piece praised Dorgan’s ’do. “Not only because it appears to defy gravity, but also because the thickness of Dorgan’s topmost follicles has an element of ambiguity: Are those combed-over strands of hair gathered into a patch, or is it a rug?”

We may never know. A good barber never tells and also has diplomatic immunity.

Again, Byron Dorgan should be judged on the merits of what he accomplished on the job, not what he did in front of the mirror. Dorgan was the one who reached across the aisle, not his hair – though it could have.

Congress is the one place where combovers are openly accepted in public. When music stars go bald, they wear hats. If they’re country stars, it works. (Hello, Kenny Chesney!) If they’re hard rockers, it doesn’t (Halloooo, Scorpions!)

When actors start thinning, they get hair transplants. (I think Burt Reynolds just took skin grafts from his chest.)

The problem with a combover is once you commit, you can’t go back. You’re caught in your own lie. Donald Trump can’t show up for work Monday morning freshly shorn and say, “Huh. I guess I was actually bald on top all these years. Who knew?”

Dorgan is readying to ride off into the sunset. Or maybe he’ll lay low for a year, rest up and return with a dynamic Jean-Luc Picard crop, ditch the glasses for contacts and be the fresh new face the North Dakota Dems are looking for.

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533