The Appearance Of Propriety

« November 2005 »

Memo to 30+ lawmakers: YOU ARE DUMB.

When it comes right down to it, my base, minimum level of expectations for our "leaders" is pretty fucking low. I don't expect them to vote their conscience. I don't expect them to be free of corruption, influence-peddling, bribery, sexual pecadilloes, medical ethics, or the occasional felony money-laundering charge.

The highest ethical standards, supposedly required of senators and representatives, say these people should avoid even the appearance of impropriety. It could be perfectly legal, perfectly acceptable, but if it might look a bit fishy, they should back off and take the high road. I know. It makes me laugh, too.

But it's not too much to ask that we at least have the appearance of propriety. Sure, in reality, they're taking money left and right to get powerful people more power. Making sure their contributors win so that they win. Screwing us all by inches every single day. But for fuck's sake, hide it better. And when you get caught, have a decent excuse ready. That's all I really want.

If you can't be bothered to maintain the illusion, how the hell do you expect me to maintain my suspension of disbelief? I can see the boom mike, and the rubber mask is peeling off around the neck. Which brings us to the Abramoff Nearly Three Dozen.

It doesn't have the same ring to it as the Keating Five, I know. Not my fault. The AP saw fit to say "nearly three dozen" and "at least 33", but no comprehensive list, because... I dunno. They were probably tired from doing a rare bit of real journalism. Still, the "Abramoff" part is gold. He is, of course, the ultralobbyist who's got a filthy finger in two thirds of this year's big scandals.

And the big one involves two Indian tribes. One had casinos. One wanted casinos. Abramoff allegedly managed, somehow to lobby for both, taking money to get the second tribe their casino AND to keep the second tribe from getting their casino. Which is impressive. But it was in the service of that second goal that the lawmakers came into play.

The AP found that these nearly three dozen legislators, from both parties, had all lobbied Interior Secretary Gale Norton to keep the second tribe from getting their casino. And they had done so within days of receiving campaign contributions from either Abramoff or the first tribe. Boom. Red-handed. Appearance of impropriety. So how do these fuckers defend themselves? ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"The only connection was Senator Reid has consistently opposed any effort to undermine the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act." - Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

"We've always opposed these things, in our backyard, in our state, someplace else." - Michael Stokke, deputy chief of staff to House speaker Dennis Hastert.

"If they want to give a contribution to support Republican candidates, more power to them. That doesn't mean we have to support what they are doing." - Guy Harrison, spokesman for Texas rep Pete Sessions.

[The opposition to the casino is] consistent with his long-held position and are in no way related to political contributions." - Burson Taylor, spokeswoman for House majority leader Roy Blunt.

Imagine this. Let's say you're a judge in a municipal court. And before you is brought a prostitute. Let's call her Jane Hoe. And she's been arrested on charges of performing acts of sexual gratification in exchange for financial recompense. And her defense is that Jane really likes fucking, and would have had sex anyway, and it's completely unconnected with the fifty dollars she took from the man right before she fucked him. It's a coincidence.

Would you buy it? You would not. But Reid, Hastert, Sessions, Blunt, and the other 29 ro so lawmakers expect you to believe that their many letters opposing this Indian tribe's plans have nothing to do with the $830,000 they collectively received from the OTHER Indian tribe, because they're such principled opponents to gambling.

They're not even TRYING. I miss the days when people who got caught at this shit had to spend a decade rehabilitating their image and turning themselves into a "maverick". I miss the days when they would bother waiting a week between giving themselves a pay raise and cutting funding for Food Stamps. I miss the days when it was possible to be too cynical about politics.

Which is something else that sets me apart from the Abramoff Nearly Three Dozen.