Tired: whiteboards. Wired: grains.

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Katie Porter
Credit: Getty Images

Rep. Katie Porter, queen of Orange County and also the Whiteboard Industry, appeared before Congress virtually on Thursday afternoon in what appeared to be the garage of her sunny Southern California home. 

A garage may sound like a strange place to take a Zoom call (most politicians prefer their glittering offices or personal libraries), even for Porter, whose visual aids are legend on the Hill.  But we soon learned why Porter found the setting necessary. (Spoiler: It wasn't the M&Ms she used to school Shell about its spending on green energy.) 

During the hearing about the fossil fuel industry's alleged efforts to mislead the public about climate change, the mom of three and member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform asked the leaders of the oil industry, "How many acres of public land are already leased by fossil fuel companies?"

Mike Sommers, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), began dithering on about her "misunderstanding" of the industry before Porter forcefully reclaimed her time. "The answer is 13.9 million acres," she said. "To visualize how much land that is, if each grain of rice was one acre, that would be 479 pounds of rice." 

As she spoke, the trunk of her minivan (bearing an OVRSITE vanity plate) slowly opened to reveal bags and bags of white rice, as though it were the most casual thing in the world to have nearly a quarter ton of grains on hand for the sole purpose of embarrassing leaders of the fossil fuel industry. 

Then came the good part. After cutting to another member of the API, the camera pivoted back to Porter, who was leaning on an open bag of rice as the grains spilled across the garage floor, the equivalent, apparently, of the acreage of Maryland and New Jersey. "You have two of our 50 states at a price that makes the Lousisana Purchase look like a ripoff and you're not even using it," she says, before flipping to the next page of her script. "What more do you need?" 

Twitter, needless to say, loved the demonstration: 

The minivan, the rice, the purple clipboard — name a more iconic setup or a better use of visual aids. You can't.