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Picture Worth a Trillion Dollars: Legislators on Laptops During Hearing-Truth! & Fiction!

Picture Worth a Trillion Dollars: Legislators on Laptops During Hearing-Truth! & Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:
A forwarded email with the subject line  “A Picture Worth a Trillion Dollars” shows a photograph of two lawmakers playing solitaire on their laptop computers during a budget hearing.
The Truth:
This photo shows elected officials playing solitaire, cruising Facebook and checking baseball scores during a budget hearing — but the lawmakers in the photo have often been misidentified as members of Congress.
The so-called picture worth a trillion dollars, which was taken by Associated Press photographer Jessica Hill, shows Connecticut State Representatives Barbara Lambert and Jack F. Hennessy playing solitaire on their laptop computers during a Monday night session of the state assembly. Hill took the photograph on August 31, 2009, from the back of the historic Hall of the House in Hartford, CT, as lawmakers convened to vote on a new budget for the fiscal year.

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According to a Sept. 8, 2009 article in the Hartford Courant, an embarrassed Hennessy apologized  in a letter to Bridgeport residents admitting to bad judgment and calling his actions inexcusable:

I have received a great deal of mail and even a few calls from people all over the country over the last couple of months about the photograph I have as a lead off image on my member page. Some viewers have even gone so far to say they believe the photograph is not authentic. I take my profession very serious. There is nothing staged or altered in the photograph and it is insulting to me to have been accused of otherwise from people who do not even know me.

In the years since the picture worth a trillion dollars surfaced, however, the lawmakers in the photo became more frequently misidentified as members of U.S. Congress. Social media posts like this one have claimed that lawmakers were too busy playing solitaire to solve important federal issues like health care and cap-and-trade:
picture worth a trillion dollars
Members of the Connecticut State Assembly have been misidentified as members of U.S. Congress in this photo.
Given that the picture worth a trillion dollars is authentic and actually shows lawmakers playing solitaire on their laptops during an important hearing, we’re calling this one “truth.” And because the lawmakers in this photo have been commonly misidentified as members of U.S. Congress when they’re actually Connecticut State Representatives, we’re also calling this one “fiction.”
updated 6/19/2017