Gene HackmanSen. Paul has been having toilet nightmares ever since he watched The Conversation back in 1974. Last Thursday, I learned that Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) hasn’t had a functioning toilet in his home for 20 years.

He seems to believe the federal government is not allowing him to own a functioning toilet. I found this strange, because I own a functioning toilet. And like the senator, I also live in America.

So, I thought, perhaps I can help the senator find some relief. But first, I needed to figure out the origin of his problem.

He blamed the deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. During her testimony to his committee, Sen. Paul exploded:

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Frankly, my toilets don’t work in my house. And I blame you and people like you who want to tell me what I can install in my house, what I can do … I’ve been waiting for 20 years to talk about how bad these toilets are …

What the senator left out of his rant is that it is not the Department of Energy that dictates the water-efficiency standards for toilets. It’s the democratically elected, constitutionally empowered United States Congress and the president.

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And it just so happens that roughly 20 years ago (19 to be exact) is when our democratically elected representatives passed a law, signed by President George H. W. Bush setting a 1.6 gallons-per-flush standard for newly made toilets.

The law did not force anyone to replace older, water-wasting models. But if Sen. Rand Paul has been without a functioning toilet for 20 years, I can only presume that this is what happened to him:

  • In 1991, he predicted the President George H.W. Bush would sign higher standards into law the following year.
  • Eager to save water, he voluntarily ran out to buy a low flow toilet.
  • But in his haste, he picked a model that didn’t work well, and didn’t bother to return or replace it ever since.

The good libertarian senator should understand that he can’t expect the government to do everything for him. He has to take some responsibility and do some research if he is going to find a toilet that serves his needs.

If he had, he would have learned that it took a few years for toilet manufacturers to embrace innovation to best meet the standards established by our democratically elected representatives. As WiseGeek reported:

The first low flow toilet designs simply changed the tank size, thereby reducing the amount of water used without making any other modifications. These early models had many problems and often became clogged or required two flushes to adequately remove waste. These issues frustrated homeowners, making them reluctant to purchase the new toilets. They repaired their old ones or purchased used models instead.

These complications prompted manufacturers to make modifications and improve their low flow toilet models. Most currently available models work in a comparable fashion to older pre-1994 designs. Some of the changes that have helped include widening and straightening the trapway, and finishing the passage in a manner that reduces friction. Other models use air pressure or pumps to help the water move with added force.

This is often how government standards can spark innovation and progress. Set the bar, then allow the private sector compete to find the best ways to clear the bar.

So today, if I may use language America’s highest-ranking libertarian can understand, if he goes into a “store” that operates in the “private sector” there are many high-performing low flow toilets from which he can “choose” for his home.

But which one? Perhaps the senator is overwhelmed because there so many choices, and he remains scarred because he chose so badly the first time.

Fortunately, Consumer Reports recently tested and rated 25 different toilets [$ubreq]. The link is for subscribers only, but for the senator, I’ll offer up the goods.

Consumer Reports found that “the best performers still use the standard 1.6 gallons of water per flush. But some greener models deliver comparable flushing and save hundreds of gallons per year for the same price or less.”

The magazine particularly liked the 1.28 gallon-per-flush Kohler Cimarron K-3609, deeming it an affordable “Best Buy” after it “sailed through our tough solid and liquid waste tests nearly as well as two pricier models from the same brand.” It also had high praise the for “gravity-flush American Standard and Kohler” brands as they “vanquish waste as well as the most powerful pressure-assisted toilets, but without the wall-shaking whoosh that typifies pressure models.”

I will be emailing the senator with this information. I am confident he will be grateful for the information, and pleased to know he need not blame the government for problems he can solve himself.

Unless of course, it is Sen. Paul, and not his toilet, that is full of …

Originally published at

Also check out: David Roberts on the toilet he’s going to buy Rand Paul