Well, we have you in jail and we would love to charge you with a crime and give you a fair trial. Really! Sadly, the evidentiary threshold for proving that you've committed a crime is just too high given the quality of information the detectives have collected. So, you'll have to stay in jail forever. We can't just let you go! Who knows what might happen if we did that? You might go out and commit a crime!
The United States Senate has 100 members. A bill gets passed in the Senate when a majority of Senators vote for it.
Before the vote, however, there is a debate held over the merits of the legislation. The vote comes AFTER the Senators vote to end the debate and vote on the bill. It only takes 51 Senators to pass a bill, but it takes 60 Senators to end the debate.
After the Republicans lost their majority in the 2006 elections, there were 49 Republicans remaining in the Senate. Of course, if 51 Democrats vote for a bill, even if all 49 Republicans vote no - that bill will pass. They didn't like that idea. Instead, they came up with another idea - instead of voting no, they just decided to vote against voting. Often. More often than ever before.
Then there was another election in 2008. Republicans knew they were going to lose some seats, but thought they could hold on to at least 41. They warned voters against electing 60 Democrats - and the dark possibility that there would be No Stopping Them! if the GOP lost the ability to prevent the Senate from voting on new bills.
Dark, DARK DAYS! D.C. shrouded in darkness! Oh yeah, I just realized, Obama's skin is slightly darker than most voters. LOL, coincidence!
Republicans lost 8 more seats, leaving them with only 41 of 100 - the bare minimum needed to continue keeping bills from being voted on.
At least, they DID have 41 - until Arlen Specter switched parties to become the 60th vote the Democrats needed to end those debates and vote on the bills.
They lost their ability to filibuster. This is, of course, GREAT NEWS FOR REPUBLICANS! - according to Fox News.