Barack Obama served in the Illinois State Senate from 1997-2004 before being elected to the United States Senate that year. President Obama has characterized his tenure in the body as a time of building consensus between the two parties and pushing through important legislation.
Upon a look of the actual transcripts of his Senate tenure, there is a different picture. While he does address some issues, such as lead poisoning, rent control, and municipal issues, many of these are not earth-shattering or reducing regulation or taxes.
You can find some of his transcripts per year simply by looking at the Illinois legislative record. Let's take a look at some examples from his first year on the job in 1997.
From October 30, 1997, he even admits to his colleagues that he was not paying attention to legislation already passed with his consent:
So why was he not paying "sufficient attention"? Just look back two weeks, to the October 17th transcript, in which he wasn't even there:
Or another absence from November 1999:
Or this confused response from November 2000?
So he got better with experience, eh? From May 2001, what about following talk of the Energy and Environment Committee meeting with... birthday wishes?
Wow. The bill of the century.