The Review-Journal’s anonymous “grade the legislators” survey, conducted after each regular session of the Legislature, has all the suspense of a homecoming ballot. Like the ever-popular jocks and princesses, lawmakers who embrace process and bigger government get the crowns. Like the geeks and burnouts, no one who favors principle and smaller government will fare well …

The poll surveyed legislators, lobbyists and journalists. …

For the sixth straight legislative session, Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, was named best Assembly member. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, was named best senator. Ms. Buckley, as speaker, and Sen. Raggio, the upper chamber’s minority leader, ushered $1 billion worth of tax increases through both houses twice — once to pass them, once to override Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto.

Meanwhile, three of the worst five senators (as judged by the survey) voted against the tax increases, as did the five worst Assembly members. The five best senators and five best assembly members all voted for the tax increases. And Gov. Gibbons was, predictably, given an “F” for not wavering from his opposition to tax increases. …

Surveying the Capitol’s political, policy and pundit cliques is instructive in just how incestuous Carson City has become. These folks would never embrace anyone who questions why government always needs more of your money, or someone who insists that for every new bill that’s passed, two statutes must be taken off the books. Such absolutists and obstructionists get in the way of “finding solutions,” we’re told … .

Those who “get something done,” even if it involves bullying, threatening, betraying campaign promises and ignoring home-district constitutents, become heroes.

Funny thing about popularity contests, though: The folks who win them never seem to look quite as good 10 or 20 years down the line.

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