Contrary to what you’ve been reading and hearing about the Senate’s gun-control vote last week, the Manchin-Toomey amendment on gun registration didn’t lose. Not unless you factor in the Las Vegas point spread.

For those few innocents unfamiliar with how a point spread works, here’s an example: Say Alabama is playing Ohio University in a football game Saturday. Because Alabama is heavily favored, Las Vegas puts out a line encouraging you to bet by giving the Crimson Tide a 24-point handicap going into the game. This means that if Ohio University holds Alabama to only three touchdowns, though the Tide wins the game it hasn’t covered the spread.

Enter Nevada’s Harry Reid, the senator for Las Vegas. Before the roll is even called on the gun law – or a court nomination, or a Cabinet appointment – Reid makes a deal with his opponent Mitch McConnell that in order to get anything through the Senate it will take not 51 but 60 votes. A nine-vote spread.

That means that even when an amendment like Manchin-Toomey passes by a comfortable margin (54-46), McConnell’s team comes out grinning, while Reid (hypocritically) fulminates.

Why does Reid agree to handicapping his team in this way? Senate Club rules, old chap. Comes the day that Democrats are in the minority, Reid will be grinning while McConnell (hypocritically) goes away fulminating.

It’s been said, by no less an observer than the President of the United States (a former member of the Club), that Washington is broken. Right. And if I were to pinpoint the fracture, it would be in the wing of the U.S. Capitol that calls itself the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.

World’s Greatest Debilitated Body would be more like it. See you at the game.

Sound Bite to Remember

It doesn’t take a genius to understand football. You don’t have to be a Norman Einstein.

– Washington Redskins quarterback/Notre Dame graduate Joe Theismann