US House speaker vote treated to its own (accidental) Leeroy Jenkins sideshow

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The U.S. House of Representatives is currently in something of a crisis, as Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has failed in multiple attempts to be elected speaker of the house. This is an internal Republican spat but the effect has been to paralyse the government and leave the House unable to actually do anything. Or as the BBC puts it: Three days. Eleven votes. Still no US House speaker. (opens in new tab)

Unsurprisingly, Democrats are getting a bit sick of this, but Representative Jared Huffmann of California apparently decided to express his distaste through an echo of World of Warcraft's most famous meme. During the latest vote to determine the next speaker, Huffmann voted for the Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, and he did so by shouting "Haaaakkkkeeeemmmm Jeffriiiieeess!"

The delivery is unmistakably similar to the way Leeroy Jenkins shouts his own name, before running off to get his entire crew slaughtered by dragons.

"Yup, I said what I said," wrote Huffmann (opens in new tab) in response to a question about whether it was deliberate. "If Republicans are going to make us sit through this repeated self-flagellation, we might as well make it memorable."

"I will continue doing my Leroy Jenkins impersonation until House Republicans stop nominating 6-time loser Quevin McCarthy for Speaker," Huffmann later said (opens in new tab). "I'm not bluffing."

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However, I bring sad and shocking news. Elected officials sometimes tell little white lies. And that's what Huffmann's done here. A day or so later the Huffington Post reporter Arthur Delany spoke to Huffmann.

"Huffman just told me he was actually trying to sound like an old timey boxing announcer, but now that he knows about Leroy Jenkins he likes that better," writes Delany (opens in new tab). "'I’m doing a little George Santos, you know, acting like I know about it…' Sad to report this."

Regardless the Leeroy interpretation took hold and, like memes do, began to spread. "Jared Huffman does a 'Leeroy Jenkins' style vote for Hakeem Jeffries," writes the New Republic's Congressional reporter Grace Seger (opens in new tab). "Marianette Miller-Meeks (of all people) does a Leeroy Jenkins for Kevin McCarthy. We're having fun here, folks."

The Leeroy Jenkins meme is now 17 years old (opens in new tab), and has shown the most incredible longevity. It remains a genuinely funny clip, in which a guild has a technical discussion about how they're going to approach a difficult boss, before paladin Leeroy apparently returns to the game, bellows "let's do this", and charges off shouting his name. It was intended as a joke by its creators but many took it seriously, with nearly every line from the clip splitting off into separate mini-memes.

Perhaps this is the ultimate manifestation of its power: Elected politicians sparring with WoW memes as the House of Representatives uselessly spasms. Maybe we really are in the end times, should accept fate, and just follow Leeroy to our doom. At least he has chicken.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."