Good news: the longest-serving Senator in US history isn't unreconstructed racist asshole Strom Thurmond anymore. Bad news: it is now a former Klansman.

Robert Byrd, our US Senator from the great state of West Virginia, has been a Senator since January 3, 1959, making him the longest-serving member in congressional history. He is 91 years old (his 92nd birthday is on Friday!) and third in line for the presidency should something happen to Obama, Biden, and Pelosi.

He filibustered against the Civil Rights Act and opposed the Voting Rights Act but in the years since then, instead of jumping to the Republicans like most racist Democrats did, he's made a concerted effort to fit into the mainstream of the Democratic party.

So: probably still an old racist, but the sort of old racist who knows it is not acceptable to be racist anymore.

Oh, he is also a champion of the worst tendencies of the Senate: arcane parliamentary procedure in the service of obstructionism, and intense regionalism. When he dies his colleagues will present him one last earmark, officially renaming the state "West Byrdginia."

Here he is accidentally becoming a '70s Randy Newman song:

And here he is reading a poem: