WASHINGTON -- Sen. Zell Miller, whose fiscal conservative viewpoints have long irked fellow Democrats, revealed a social conservative side Thursday during a wide-ranging floor speech targeting what he calls a "deficit of decency."
The former Georgia governor used the 12-minute speech to endorse a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and woman and a measure to restrict the ability of federal courts to limit the public acknowledgment of God.
He quoted the Old Testament prophet Amos' caution of a "famine in the land" and argued that is exactly what the country is facing now.
"Yes, there's a deficit to be concerned about - a deficit of decency," Miller said. "So, as the sand empties through my hourglass at warp speed - and with my time running out in this Senate and on this earth, I feel compelled to speak out. For I truly believe that at times like this, silence is not golden. It is yellow."
Miller spent part of his speech blasting the now-infamous Super Bowl halftime show, although he said the antics between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake should have been no surprise considering their song included the lyrics "I'm going to get you naked."
"I'm not talking just about an exposed mammary gland with a pull-tab attached to it," Miller said. "Does any responsible adult ever listen to the words of this rap-crap? I'd quote you some of it, but the sergeant of arms would throw me out of here, as well he should."
Miller elaborated on his comments from Wednesday in which he called Kid Rock an "ignoramus" for performing while draped in a poncho designed to look like the American flag and also criticized Nellie's dance performance.
"And then there was that dancing, prancing, strutting, rutting guy evidently suffering from jock itch because he kept yelling and grabbing his crotch," Miller said, referring to Nellie. "But then, maybe there's a culture of crotch in this country that I don't know about."
In his book about the Democratic Party abandoning the South, Miller spends only a few pages discussing social issues, including his change of position to oppose abortion rights.
However, University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said this social conservative side is rather new for the senator, who is retiring next year.
"I don't think it was visible during his governorship," Bullock said. "He's gotten older and as he looks at his great-grandchildren, he's changed his mind. His sense is he's closer to the end of the race than the beginning."