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The House Judiciary Committee grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai yesterday, and it went about as poorly as most congressional hearings with big tech go. Republicans embarrassed themselves, Democrats tried to act like adults, and the tech CEO uncomfortably dodged questions. There was even a side-show with the Monopoly Guy, and a special guest appearance by Alex Jones and Roger Stone! Is it any wonder that, after a year of sham hearings with Silicon Valley heavyweights, there hasn't been a single piece of legislation aimed at the hoodie-clad kombucha crowd trying to make the world a better place?


Everything started off fairly normal: a very unhealthy-looking Alex Jones ran through the halls of Congress yelling at a throng of reporters screaming, "Google Is Evil," in the hope that someone would pay attention to what's left of his crumbling empire. When the hearing finally got underway, Republicans wasted no time crying wolf about political biases in Google's search algorithm, and threatening antitrust regulation. Ranking Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler called this a "right-wing conspiracy theory," and added that this wouldn't be a problem if Republicans were willing to reimpose the Fairness Doctrine the Reagan administration brutally murdered 30 years ago. Oh well!

Nadler wasted no time screwing around like the Republicans did. He wanted to know what Google found when it began investigating Russian fuckery in the 2016 election.

Republicans spewed a lot of nonsense from their mouths, but nothing of substantial value. Rep. Lamar Smith cited a bogus "study" from a conservative blog as evidence of conservative bias, then proposed hunting down all the liberals inside Google and purging them. Rep. Jim Jordan started spouting off some disjointed conspiracy theory about Latino voters in the Southwest. Rep Steve Chabot complained that nobody could find his personal blog, and suggested that this is why nobody supported TrumpCare. Rep. Ted Poe held up an iPhone and demanded to know if Google was tracking him as he skulked around DC doing whatever it is political hacks do when they're not wasting taxpayer money by creating 30-second sound bites for "Hannity."

As if he were somehow channeling the ghost of the late Sen. Ted Stevens, Rep. Steve King (R-Nazi) took the time to step on his own dick once again by demanding to know why his granddaughter was finding mean pictures about him on her iPhone. This prompted Pichai to inform King that Google doesn't make iPhones, and that he may have a much larger problem.

Democrats weren't necessarily bit players in this political theater, but most used their time to set up future hearings. Rep. Ted Deutch actually performed a security check-up on his phone during the hearing, and asked how Google's ad targeting was tracking people even after they'd turned that feature off. Rep. Karen Bass asked how Google was responding to bot attacks, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee rolled up her sleeves and threw down the gauntlet, demanding to know how Google intended to stop the spread of illegal prescription drugs, protect data privacy, and whether or not Google was actually creating a custom search engine for the Chinese government to spy on citizens, known as Project Dragonfly.

Several Democrats actually demonstrated just how ignorant Republicans are when it comes to tech. Zoe Lofgren actually Google'd "idiot" and asked why pictures of Donald Trump always seem to show up. Rep. Jamie Raskin cornered Pichai on the creepy world of YouTube conspiracies, like Pizzagate and Frazzledrip, that claim Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin sexually assault children and drink their blood. (Really. Google it. On Google!)

Rep. Ted Lieu schooled everyone and showed how search functions work, by using the only method that ever seems to work on Capitol Hill: big, ridiculous poster board. Lieu compared search results for Reps. Steve Scalise and Steve King, two conservatives with habit of making ridiculous statements. Lieu noted that results for Scalise brought up things about his new book. Lieu then Googled Rep. Steve King DURING THE HEARING, and started reading the results.

Pichai left relatively unscathed, which is more than you can say for Mark Zuckerberg. He acknowledged that Google and YouTube have a serious problem with privacy and Nazis, respectively, and gave some hard data about their efforts combating Russian fuckery.

Pichai knows damn well his time in DC isn't done, which is why Google has spent millions on lobbyists and has been schmoozing conservative politicos for the past two years. They know the Wild West days of big tech are coming to an end, but unlike Facebook, Google hasn't actually murdered anyone (that we know of). Democrats in both the House and the Senate have stated that these kinds of hearings are just beginning, so at least we'll get more silly characters from Ian Madrigal, like this guy:

Good Google hearing, Republicans! Now if you could just find somebody to help you program this fancy new remote control right here ...

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or lying in a gutter taking photos.

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Welcome to another edition of Yr Sunday Nice Things feature, where we take a break from the daily craziness so we can decompress for a little while. Today, we're going to relax with the ineffable mental calm that comes from an oddly rectangular English cow. It's really beautiful to see what can happen when people all over the internet come together to collaborate on a little art project. We call it...

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