Democrats in the House Energy and Commerce Committee had a secret weapon — a speed-reader — who they were prepared to pull out in case Republicans forced the public reading of a nearly 1,000-page climate change bill and lengthy amendments that have been debated all week.

US-FINANCIAL/The procedural maneuver to delay progress on the bill had been threatened by Republicans, who oppose the “cap and trade” program Democrats constructed to gradually reduce industry’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In the end, Republicans didn’t resort to the delay.

But not wanting to waste the talents of the speed-reader Chairman Henry Waxman hired, the committee gave Douglas Wilder his moment in the sun by asking him to read out loud hundreds of pages contained in a Republican counter-proposal that everyone knew was doomed.

Sporting an orange-colored shirt, patterned tie and brushed-back hair, Wilder took off, sounding almost like an auctioneer.

The words flew by, sometimes almostĀ  unintelligible and too fast for even the most competent note-takers in the hearing room filled with lawmakers, lobbyists and journalists.