Yesterday, Senator Rand Paul did what many saw as inevitable: he quoted at length from Ayn Rand, specifically from Anthem, during an Energy and Natural Sources committee meeting to make a point about individual will being squashed by a collective rules society. The speech got us wondering: before Paul the younger arrived to the Senate how often does Ayn Rand get mentioned in Congress?

A good measure, we thought, would be searching through the Congressional Record, which is the official record of the proceedings in the United States Congress as well as a sort of a bulletin board that legislators use to place written remarks about people they like, occasions they want to celebrate and other things they want to put in the record.

In our search of the Record from the last 10 sessions of Congress, spanning from 1993 to 2011, the libertarian hero has only been mentioned 23 times. Ayn Rand has been invoked in praise of her former book printer, Caxton Printers, and during references to her book Atlas Shrugged in arguments to eliminate the death tax in 2001 and while denouncing the National Competitiveness Act of 1993. She also gets 5 mentions by legislators who were quick to note that Alan Greenspan was once a disciple of hers ("Don’t hold that against him," Congressman Harkin said in 2000.)

By far, though, the person most likely to mention Ayn Rand is Ron Paul, the current libertarian hero and father of the newest Senator from Kentucky, Rand. (That his son and his hero share the same name is just a happy coincidence.) He has invoked Ayn Rand's name nine times in the span we surveyed: when criticizing the post office, while commemorating the 100th anniversary of her birth, and in an article submitted mentioning her during a tribute to Milton Friedman. And Ron Paul is notably the only member of Congress to actually quote Ayn Rand during this period.

Paul's favorite occasion to bring up Ayn Rand is when he is talking about the one government spending program he apparently loves: NASA. On at least five different times he's submitted the same Ayn Rand quote commemorating the Apollo 11 moon landing. Here's the quote that Paul cited again and again (all words below are his from the records):

July 12, 2006: What philosopher Ayn Rand wrote of the moon landing in 1969 applies to the STS-121 and all of NASA's missions: "Think of what was required to achieve that mission: think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one's judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of the unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus; and the honesty. It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in reality what had only been dreamt of for millennia.'' I encourage all of my colleagues and all Americans to join me in commending NASA for completing STS-121 mission, and all of NASA's work.

July 19, 2006: But nevertheless, it just happened that NASA was her favorite government agency, and therefore after the Moon landing in 1979 she wrote very favorably about NASA, which in some ways contradicted her philosophy, but it also spoke to the tremendous brilliance and success of the Moon exploration program.That author that I want to quote is the author of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand, who wrote this shortly after the Moon landing in 1969. And although this is written in praise of the Moon landing, it applies to all those individuals who participated in STS-121. The quote goes this way: "Think of what was required to achieve that mission: think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one's judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of the unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus; and the honesty. It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in reality what had only been dreamt of for millennia.''

July 30, 2007: What philosopher Ayn Rand wrote of the moon landing in 1969 applies to all of NASA's missions:  "Think of what was required to achieve that mission: think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one's judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of the unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus; and the honesty. It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in reality what had only been dreamt of for millennia.'' I encourage all of my colleagues and all Americans to join me in commending NASA for 50 years of accomplishments by supporting H.R. 2750.

July 14, 2009: One of my favorite quotes regarding the moon landing was penned by philosopher Ayn Rand in 1969: "Think of what was required to achieve that mission: think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one's judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of the unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus; and the honesty. It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in reality what had only been dreamt of for millennia.'' Rand's words not only apply to the Apollo 11 mission but to all of the work of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

July 20, 2009: Mr. Paul. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to cosponsor H. Res. 607, which commemorates the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Apollo 11's successful mission was certainly "a giant step for mankind,'' that should be a source of pride for all Americans. One of my favorite quotes regarding the moon landing was penned by philosopher Ayn Rand in 1969: "Think of what was required to achieve that mission: think of the unpitying effort; the merciless discipline; the courage; the responsibility of relying on one's judgment; the days, nights and years of unswerving dedication to a goal; the tension of the unbroken maintenance of a full, clear mental focus; and the honesty. It took the highest, sustained acts of virtue to create in reality what had only been dreamt of for millennia.'' Rand's words not only apply to the Apollo 11 mission but to all of the work of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As a representative of the Gulf Coast of Texas, which is home to many of NASA's most significant triumphs, I have had the opportunity to meet many NASA employees. I have always been impressed by their professionalism and dedication to their mission.