Billy Long is a Tea Party stalwart who ran for Congress as a man fed up with Washington.
Long won in a landslide and now represents Joplin, Mo., where he fired up a Tea Party crowd in April pretending to auction off the national debt.
Five weeks later, Long was back in Joplin, this time in the dark and rain, surveying the aftermath of an apocalyptic tornado. And this time, the federal government was his friend.
"FEMA called as soon as I got there and said, 'Congressman Long, we're on the way. We'll have boots on the ground in an hour or two,' " he says. "And I said, 'No you won't; they're already here.' "
What followed, Long says, has been a superb relief effort.
"The president came in, he was great. [Homeland Security Secretary] Janet Napolitano came in, she's been great," he says. "[House Minority] Leader Pelosi came up to me on the floor, hugged me and said, 'Billy, anything the people of Joplin need they'll have.' "
And that's just what they've gotten: FEMA has spent close to $100 million on the cleanup, and an additional $19 million plus on rent and home repairs. Napolitano was back in Joplin on Thursday, praising Joplin's "can-do attitude" and Long.
"He's worked well with our office, with our shop," she said. "When he was asked about FEMA, to rank it shortly after the fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, he said he'd give it a 12."