For years, we Texans have been able to say proudly, “Thank God for Mississippi.” If it weren’t for the Magnolia State, the Lone Star State would rank 50th in almost any category of education, health, poverty or number of mouth-breathers per 1,000. But now we can give thanks to Florida and Minnesota for the way they run their election tabulations. And thank you New York and Illinois, not to mention South Carolina and Alaska, when it comes to weird governors. OK, our own Gov. Rick Perry did turn down $555 million in federal stimulus funds for our laid-off workers, while accepting $11 million from stimulus funds to repair his burnt-out Governor’s Mansion, but that’s not exactly hypocritical, just sleazy. We can start with New York where its Democratic governor, Eliot Spitzer, aka “Client 9 at the Emperor’s Club VIP Escort Service,” got caught being, well, Client 9 at the Emperor’s Club VIP Escort Service. Spitzer was replaced by his Democratic lieutenant governor, David Paterson, who admitted to having extramarital affairs at a Day’s Inn, which is certainly a step down from the Emperor’s Club VIP. Fortunately for Paterson, his wife admitted to her own off-the-reservation operations. Next door we have New Jersey, where Gov. James McGreevey, another Dem, admitted to being “a gay American,” and resigned. His constituents might have overlooked the gay bit, but when it was revealed the governor had appointed his lover as head of the state’s Homeland Security Agency with absolutely no experience in that field (he was an Israeli poet), New Jerseyans, who could no longer look across the Hudson at the Twin Towers, were understandably upset. Do some states have a requirement that, to be governor, you have to be rather weird? Illinois had Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, who knew he was under investigation by the FBI for corruption, but kept making phone calls discussing how to sell the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barack Obama. The legislature threw Blago out of office. Thanks to South Carolina, we now know that the Appalachian Trail leads to Tango Town. The Palmetto State’s Republican governor, Mark Sanford, a Christian, is almost as strange as Blogo. Sanford kept meeting with his Argentine lover (at least this consort is of the opposite sex, the GOP leadership notes hopefully), including stiffing his four sons on Fathers’ Day. Finally among governors, what’s left to say about Gov. Sarah Palin except that from her front porch she can see reality. Moving from the various governors’ mansions to Congress, GOP Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho was convicted of soliciting sex in the men’s room in Minneapolis airport. Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vetter’s name appeared in a madam’s little black book, apparently as a client. He apologized for something, but no one is sure what. Republican Sen.John Ensign of Nevada, another conservative Christian lawmaker, has admitted his wealthy parents gave his mistress and her family nearly $100,000 as a “pattern of generosity.” No one mentioned that the cuckolded husband of the senator’s mistress, both former staffers, was demanding money. If it walks like hush money and quacks like hush money…. Then there was Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who liked to write sexy notes to male Congressional aides. Foley, a Republican, resigned to be replaced by Tim Mahoney, a Democrat, who was found to have had an affair (heterosexual) and was defeated. Gad, the list goes on. Former GOP Rep. Duke Cunningham is currently in a federal slammer for accepting bribes. Former senator and presidential candidate John Edwards, a Democrat, has a personal sex record that is getting sleazier by the day. We know that our leaders put on their pants the same way as we do: one leg at a time. We must also remember that they take them off the same way. Bill Clinton’s Oval Office escapades are well known, especially by Congressional Republicans, like then-Rep. David Vetter, who voted to impeach Clinton. There were others who preached chastity and ran on Family Values. Leading the pack was Mister Contract With America, Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich. He has been married three times, first to Jackie Battley, but they eventually decided to split. While she was in the hospital recovering from a uterine cancer operation, Gingrich visited with a list of divorce agreements, which he wanted her to sign then and there. What a class guy. In 1981, six months after his divorce was final, Gingrich wed Marianne Ginther. While still married to her, Gingrich was conducting an extramarital affair with a Congressional staffer named Callista Bisek. But he could multitask: he was also leading the Congressional investigation into allegations that Clinton lied under oath about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Do such people take a hypocritical oath? “First, do no good.” It’s hard to take the moral high ground when you’re a low life, and Gingrich eventually resigned, and was fined, under a cloud of corruption charges. He was expected to be succeeded by GOP Rep. Bob Livingston, who also had been publicly critical of Clinton’s escapades. But Livingston abruptly resigned his seat after it was revealed that he, too, had been engaged in an extramarital affair. Cheering them on was Bill Bennett, getting rich by thundering about morality, virtue and Godliness. Never mind that Bennett lost $8 million gambling in Las Vegas casinos. It’s his money, he can do as he wishes, but stop lecturing us on self-discipline and writing such tomes as “The Book of Values.” As for another moral major domo, a former employee finally dropped a sexual harassment suit against Bill O’Reilly for an undisclosed amount of hush money. Question: What does Rush Limbaugh have that Clinton doesn’t? Three ex-wives and a police record. (Incidentally, before Democrats get too holier-than-thou, why don’t your appointees pay their federal income taxes?) As we can see, neither political party has a monopoly on adultery, thievery, lying and/or stupidity, but let’s cut out the hypocritical “supporting Family Values,” unless you’re talking about the Manson Family. Ashby is valued at ashby2@comcast.

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