Robert Byrd was the longest serving US Senator in the Senate, having joined the Senate on the very same day that Alaska was admitted to the Union. He was the only person to vote against both Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. He was also a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, though he had since rebuked them. He was best known now for the massive amounts of pork he brought to West Virginia and for his attempts to get his colleagues to read what they vote on.
Also, despite his racist past (and the opinions of his constituents), he endorsed Barack Obama for President of the US, over Hillary Clinton. In 2003 he became well known for being one of the few members of Congress who gave speech after speech on the floor denouncing Bush's drive to invade Iraq, at a time when few were willing to dissent. However this is countered by his role in cluttering up the formerly quiet and out of the way state of West Virginia with military and federal law enforcement pork-barrel projects that may well have played a role in changing the political makeup of the state from blue to red, because of the type of people those projects inevitably attracted.
“”The drive for same-sex marriage is, in effect, an effort to make a sneak attack on society by encoding this aberrant behavior in legal form before society itself has decided it should be legal. [...] Let us defend the oldest institution, the institution of marriage between male and female as set forth in the Holy Bible.
|— Robert Byrd in 1996, in case you were starting to like him or something|