Bewitched: The First Amendment and Thomas Jefferson

Christine O'Donnell may regret the witch ad, but high-fives her performance about her Palin-prepped Constitutional prowess. One one heartening side effect of surreal senatorial debate: People are researching their amendment rights on Yahoo!.

Not just flabbergasted "christine o'donnell first amendment" and numero uno on the Bill of Rights, but also "us constitution amendments" (+1,1115%), "constitutional amendments" (+701%), the 2nd, the 4th, the 5th, the 14th, the 16th, and just for the heck of it No. 19, which gave women the right to vote - and eventually leading to ladies like O'Donnell to run for office.

For the record, the First Amendment language from the Library of Congress: "Art. I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." This is what the election process should do - stirring up Americans to delve into their own history, appreciate how far we've traveled, stave off any backpedaling, and push for a better future. (Can I make another bid to bring back "Schoolhouse Rock" as mandatory interstitial programming?)

As for that tricky clause, yes, it doesn't appear word for word - Thomas Jefferson laid down those words "a wall of separation between church and state" in a letter to Danbury Baptists, worried that the Connecticut constitution lacked language forbidding government to interfere in or advocate certain religious beliefs.

Jefferson hasn't been a slouch either when it comes his 21st century buzz: Lookups have peeped a modest 14%. (Incidentally, for some more historical buffing up, the radio series Studio 360, as part of its American Icons programming, takes a talks about Monticello, in order to understand Jefferson himself better. )

The Library of Congress has a fine analysis of that wall of separation, and how a few Supreme Court justices, like William Rehnquist, didn't like how "unfortunately the Establishment Clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson's misleading metaphor for nearly 40 years." He may have been chief, but he was in the minority on this one, in history and precedence.

Jefferson's influential letter got some due attention in an exhibit, and even came under the scrutiny of the FBI. No, it wasn't some secret file a la MLK (and probably would've been a tad hard since Jefferson preceded the bureau, but really, what conspirator would put it past them?). The Library of Congress asked if the FBI lab geniuses could figure out what Jefferson crossed out in his draft - the unedited version is online.

Yes, Delaware tea partier O"Donnell does lead president No. 3's online buzz by sixfold. Then again, his head is on the five cent piece. And the two dollar bill. O'Donnell, nickel for your thoughts?