The word “transportation” was spoken aloud by members of Congress 122 times on July 7. “Energy” was the most commonly used word during the entire first week of June, the same week the national average price of gas hit $4. Capitol Words, a project from the Sunlight Foundation, gives viewers a snapshot of what members of Congress are talking about using a database that searches the Congressional Record and tallies how often words are used.

The Sunlight Foundation also provides other useful reporting tools: Fortune 535 tracks the net worth of members of Congress since 1995, though it also points out there is no clear way to find out how much they are really making under current laws. For example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her family’s net worth could be between $86 million and negative $9 million, according to her disclosures. The Foundation’s Visualizing Earmarks feature illustrates earmark spending by agency, by type of organization, and by state—in 2005, Alaska received far more earmarked money per capita than any other state.

Two years ago the Sunlight Foundation began compiling more than eight sources on Congressional bills, resolutions, staff, reports and more. Their searchable databases create easy ways for regular people to track the movements of Congress.

Lisa Pickoff-White

Lisa is a multimedia producer for California Watch. Before that, she was a print, multimedia and radio reporter in the Bay Area and Washington, D.C. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, National Journal, KALX, Bay Guardian and UPI. She recently graduated from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism with an emphasis in new media.

E-mail: lpickoffwhite@californiawatch.org