During her 2000 Senate race, some of the wags covering the contest -- hell, even members of her own campaign staff -- called her Maria "Can't Smile." The mean-spirited moniker, as I recall it, first surfaced in one of the many candidate profiles that appeared in which an employee at RealNetworks, where Cantwell worked, said that was the term some workers applied -- behind her back, of course -- to their sometimes difficult boss.
So it should come as sweet vindication to our junior senator that she has earned an 88 percent rating in terms of "Biggest Smiles," among all members of the U.S. Senate, according to an analysis by Dan Nguyen, a developer/journalist at ProPublica. (Do recall that Cantwell was named "Sexiest Senator" by the Huffington Post in 2009.) The smile ranking, based largely on Face.com's facial recognition feature, gave Sen. Patty Murray a 94 percent.
Posted today on The Atlantic's website, Nguyen's study, if you want to call it that, relies heavily on Face.com's facial detection algorithms to gather senator's images and then breaks down the images according to so-called facial coordinates. Then those coordinates are used to determine the "relative smiliness of each senator's photo."
Got all that?
Those senators scoring a perfect 100 percent in "Biggest Smiles" were Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, Harry Reid, D-Nevada, and Jean Shaheen, D-New Hampshire.
Sen. Al Franken, a comedian no less, was the saddest, earning just a 37 percent ranking among "The Non-Smilers."
The "Most Ambiguous Smile" honor goes to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.