You know you’re in trouble when you’re reduced to calling Dennis Hastert as a character witness. After all, when he was Speaker of the U.S. House, Hastert ran the place as a pay-to-play whorehouse, openly trading legislative favors for the campaign cash waived around by frisky corporate lobbyists. Who in the world would want Hastert to vouch for their ethical virtue? Tom DeLay, the former GOP majority leader and the one Congress critter who was even sleazier! Having been convicted last fall by a Texas jury for illegally laundering corporate money into some state legislative races, DeLay was back in the courthouse on January 10 for sentencing. Was Tom respectfully repentant? Come on – does a skunk smell its own stink? No, no, nothing is ever his fault. Even though he’d also been reprimanded by his own colleagues for schmoozing with favor-seeking lobbyists and for commandeering a federal agency in one of his partisan actions against Democrats, he dismissed that comeuppance as nothing but “a warning ticket.” Bad metaphor, since he clearly sped right through the warning. Now a convicted felon, DeLay blames Democrats for his “persecution,” even though the jury that found him guilty included Republicans and independents. At his sentencing, the closest he got to expressing contrition about his corruption was to admit that sometimes he comes off as arrogant. However, he even denied that his arrogance was bad, quickly explaining to the judge, “I like to think of it as ‘Texas cocky.'” Hmmm… how about “Texas stupid?” The judge was not amused by DeLay’s insistence that he is the victim. “Before there were Republicans and Democrats,” the judge said, “there was America, and what America is about is the rule of law.” Pointedly noting that “I agree with the jury’s verdict,” the judge sentenced clueless Tom to three years in state prison and 10 years of probation.


Jim Hightower


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