Heard on the Hill: Lawmakers Get No Love on Google

Posted October 24, 2011 at 6:29pm

Perhaps those certain lawmakers arbitrarily sprinkled about the Google Maps of the Capitol complex got off easy. Other Members are being overtly slammed.

We already reported on the screwy placements/illustrations of certain legislative offices, but as we continued digging, we noticed that highlighting certain politicians’ names revealed some pretty inflammatory “descriptive terms.”

These are newish online tags associated with the original search term, and they are supposed to give you additional info about your intended target. At least that’s how Google explained it in this blog post:

“These phrases come from sources all across the web, such as reviews, web pages and other online references, and they can help people quickly identify the characteristics that make a particular place unique. It’s like an opportunity to ask the business owner or its patrons ‘What’s good here?’ or ‘What do most people get here?’”

Fair enough.

The embedded terms attached to Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) — “ways and means committee,” “congressman sandy” — seem sound enough.

But we wonder how House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) feels about having his online identity intrinsically linked to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), President Barack Obama and perennial presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas)?

Or how Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) are enjoying being branded with “socialist, abortions, family planning” and “baby killer,” respectively. Across the Capitol, Sen. Mark Begich (R-Alaska) gets a cryptic “These guys are stupid.” Perhaps the name-calling is why he has only received two out of six stars as a Senator/human being.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on the other hand, is basking in the glow of four out of five stars.

We, of course, prodded Google for more guidance on how/where it pulls these tags. “Our basemap data comes from a wide range of sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau and commercial data providers,” the Google gods shared.

Guess the Census Bureau ain’t too keen on Congress. …