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What to Expect from Waxman

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Tomorrow, Los Angeles's own Rep. Henry Waxman will begin his reign as chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee when Congress inaugurates its 111th session.

Waxman, who bested Detroit Rep. John Dingell in a congressional death match for chair of the powerful committee, faces a daunting shopping list when he is handed the gavel. Exactly what's in store for Waxman, the direction he takes the committee and what that means for California remains to be seen. But that won't stop us from conjecture:

Who is Waxman and how did he scrape the heights of congressional power?

Waxman, 69, is a Los Angeles Democrat and self described "unapologetic liberal." His 30th district includes West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and he served six years as a state Assemblyman before climbing the congressional ladder. He's also 5-foot 5-inches tall, went to UCLA and has a bad-ass mustache.

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He's known as a skilled legislator who can be tenacious, and was once dubbed "the scariest guy in Washington" for his vociferous watch-dog role in which he has never shied away from putting assholes in their place. In 1994, he forced the chief executives of the seven major tobacco companies to swear under oath that nicotine was not addictive after insisting that witnesses appearing before his subcommittee testify under oath, opening them up to the flood gates of perjury. He's also looked into alleged torture at Abu Ghraib, President Bush's alleged misuse of power and other silly, constitution-gutting antics that may have been perpetrated by those wacky Republicans.