"They are the Senate's plucky band of Republican moderates: Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, and John McCain of Arizona.
In recent years these moderates have become heroes to Democrats—paragons of conscience and bravery—and pariahs to conservatives—heretic "Daschle Republicans." As the GOP has moved to the right, the moderates have struggled valiantly to stand firm in the center, voting repeatedly with Democrats on key issues. I've heard some Democrats fawningly dub them the Fantastic Four, after the team of comic-book superheroes who unwittingly acquired supernatural powers from the cosmic ray of a solar flare. OK, McCain may not be much like the Thing, Chafee isn't as hot as the Human Torch, and neither Collins nor Snowe would want to be dubbed the Invisible Woman (crafty as she was!). But by the standards of hyper-partisan Washington, there has been something almost supernatural about the way these senators defy their party's aggressive right wing on behalf of their principles. In the recent past, the Fantastic Four have been a useful check on congressional GOP excesses. Of late, however, their powers are waning."
~~~Michael Crowley, March 24, 2005