When Massachusettes Gov. Elbridge Gerry supported a redistricting proposal in 1811 that included a congressional district that virtually encircled another in an effort to grease the way to re-election for his party's faithful, he provided America - with the help of a long-forgotten newspaperman - with the term, "gerrymandering."
It also cost him his job when voters, angered at the manipulation of their voting districts, turned him out of office.
This year, the Republicans in the Pennsylvania General Assembly have drawn an interesting new congressional map of the Commonwealth, which includes two districts that almost look like concentric circles. Others meander through the Keystone State as if they were part of a Jackson Pollock painting.
And yet, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, maintains, "When you look at it, there's no issues with respect to gerrymandering in the way that these districts are drawn."
Take for instance, the new 10th District, currently represented by Tom Marino, a Republican from Williamsport, which snakes from the bottom of Perry County northward, then eastward, then south to the middle of Monroe County. Should Rep. Marino or his successor want to drive from one extreme of his district to the other and never cross into another, he would have to travel some 300 miles.
The 6th and 7th districts resemble a dance, a swirl, or even the Taoist symbol of yin and yang. The 12th District slashes across six counties, but only includes one of them in totality.
Glenn Thompson, who currently represents at least part of Warren County, actually would hold perhaps the most logical and coheasive district in the state, which includes all of this county.
But Mr. Turzai's contention that the map doesn't show signs of gerrymandering is comedic.