In 1982, Van Halen created one of the greatest rock trivia facts of all time when they demanded in their tour rider that all brown M&M’s be removed from their dressing room munchies as a precondition for performing. Thirty-three years later, Wisconsin Rep Paul Ryan created a similarly ornate rider as a prerequisite for running for Speaker of the House. His diva-dom may have been a little premature.

It seems Paul’s “bowl of M&M’s” contains several of the prohibited browns, in the form of nine members of the House Freedom Caucus who think Paul Ryan sucks and shouldn’t be speaker. Thanks to rules that make Congress incredibly easy to fuck up, that’s all it would take to totally derail Ryan’s run for Speaker and again throw the House of Representatives into the garbage fire disarray to which the American people have become accustomed.

Think Progress’s Judd Legum— a living saint for combing through what must have been an awful Twitter feed— found that enough members of the Freedom Caucus have spoken up against Ryan on the record that it seems, unless something changes, that Ryan doesn’t have the votes he needs to win.

Legum’s reasoning is simple, if you’re hip to the particularly insane rules that govern the various cliques inside Congress. In order for the entire House to vote for him, Ryan needs the Republicans to vote for him. But he doesn’t have the votes if he doesn’t have the Freedom Caucus. And he doesn’t have the Freedom Caucus at all if he doesn’t have four-fifths support. And he doesn’t have four-fifths support if he doesn’t have the support of 32 of the 40 members of the Caucus. And he doesn’t have the support of 32 of the 40 members of the Caucus if 9 people in the Caucus don’t like him. 40-9=31! The numbers don’t add up!

Civics lesson for today: the peristalsis of American government is such that nine tiny, relatively insignificant specks can constipate the entire system. Greatest country in the world!


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