Over the course of his filibuster yesterday, Rand Paul used the word "drone" in a military context more than any two-year Congressional term in history — and more than it had been used in the Congressional Record prior to the 112th Congress, combined.
While he was speaking, some of those following along on Twitter wondered if this was the lengthiest discussion of drones that had ever occurred in Congress. Searching the official transcript of Congressional business reveals that it was, by far.
In total, Paul (and, to a lesser extent, other Senate speakers) said the word 489 times — 22 percent more than the term had been used on the record in the preceding twelve years.
Discussion of drones has only occurred in earnest over the past two years. The most recent Congress mentioned drones 241 times, a figure Paul surpassed before suppertime.
Prior to that Congress, many occurrences of the word "drone" were used in other contexts. One of the earliest mentions of a military drone, for example, occurred in the 108th Congress, in a "rap poem" submitted by New York Rep. Major Owens. Titled "Shock and Awe", it reads, in part: "O say can you hear / Like hysterical chickens / Enemy families scrambling / With their foreign fear. / Target with the drone / Then melt the ancient stone; / Ignore the pope / Burn infant hope."
In the 110th Congress, many mentions centered around Russia downing a Georgian drone during tensions between those countries. One drone-heavy speech focused on male bees.
But the most common use of "drone" was one that quickly became a corny joke on Twitter during the filibuster: to talk monotonously and at length. Even members of Congress like to criticize others for droning on and on, apparently without irony.