Zell Miller, United States Senator from Georgia
October 3, 2002
U.S. Senator Zell Miller, D-GA
"Madame President, I have signed on as an original co-sponsor of the Iraq resolution, and I'd like to tell you story about why I think it is the right path to take:
"A few weeks ago, we were doing some work on my back porch back home, tearing out a section of old stacked rocks, when all of a sudden I uncovered a nest of Copperhead snakes.
"Now, I'm not one to get alarmed at snakes. I know they perform some valuable functions, like eating rats.
"And when I was a young lad, I kept snakes as pets. I had an Indigo snake, a Bull snake, a beautiful colored Corn snake and many others. I must have had a dozen King snakes at one time or another. They make great pets and you only had to give them a mouse every 30 days.
"I read all the books by Raymond C. Ditmars, who was the foremost herpetologist of the day. That is a person who is an expert on snakes.
"For a while, I wanted to be a herpetologist, but the pull of being a big-league shortstop outran that childhood dream.
"I reminisce this way to explain that snakes don't scare me like they do most people. And I guess the reason is that I know the difference between those snakes that are harmless and those that will kill you.
"In fact, I bet I may be the only senator in this body who can look at the last three inches of a snake's tail and tell you whether it's poisonous or not. I can also tell the sex of a snake, but that's another story.
"A Copperhead will kill you. It could kill one of my dogs. It could kill one of my grandchildren. It could kill any one of my four great grandchildren. They play all the time where I found those killers.
"And you know, when I discovered these Copperheads, I didn't call my wife Shirley for advice, like I do on most things. I didn't go before the city council. I didn't yell for help from my neighbors. I just took a hoe and knocked them in the head and killed them. Dead as a doorknob.
"I guess you could call it a unilateral action. Or preemptive. Perhaps if you had been watching me you could have even called it bellicose and reactive.
"I took their poisonous heads off because they were a threat to me. And they were a threat to my home and my family. They were a threat to all I hold dear.
"And isn't that what this is all about?"