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The election of Ronald Reagan opened an era of mediocrity in the Congress. Dozens of candidates whom all of Washington recognized as unfit for the job were elected as senators and representatives on Reagan's coattails. And a handful of incumbents well known for their political extremism or slippery ethics, like Tom DeLay, Newt Gingrich, and Jesse Helms, suddenly had enormous influence, key committee chairmanships, or both. The new crop of lawmakers were so slavish in their devotion to Reagan's policies that they were dubbed the "Reagan Robots.