A history-challenged Congresswoman who is more rogue and mavericky than Miss Maverick herself? A former governor re-imaging himself from bridesmaid into movie action hero? Was Jesse Ventura just a warm-up act?

Both Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty are positioning themselves now in the early run-up to the 2012 Republican National Convention, garnering more than a little bit of national attention so doing.  People around the country (or, well, at least some of my non-Minnesotan Facebook peeps) are beginning to ask “Did you guys run out of liberals or something?” Oh, for gosh sakes! Minnesota has always had its share of odd duckies, liberal AND conservative — a fact that did not escape the attention of the New York Times in 2009 after Al Franken was declared the winner of a long, sometimes torturous, and widely-watched election recount.

But the (butt-out!™) NYT missed one often-forgotten Minnesotan: an early 20th-century Progressive- cum-Republican legislator who, for the better part of three decades, railed at state and national levels against special interests, big government, the moneyed oligarchy, and, yes, even socialists-communists-fascists.  Sound familiar? Meet the Blind Senator from Minnesota: Thomas D. Schall.