Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Watch Tom DeLay Ooze

One morning he awoke in a green hotel
With a strange creature groaning beside him.
Sweat oozed from its shiny skin.

Is everybody in?
The ceremony is about to begin.

From "
The Celebration of the Lizard," by Jim Morrison.

The possible indictment of House GOP Majority Leader Tom DeLay is causing his fellow Republicans in Congress to squirm like worms while trying to protect him. It's quite entertaining, I must say. The last two days have been particularly amusing.

Check out this latest episode. From CBS News:

DeLay Appears To Be Off The Hook

A review of documents made public through civil litigation indicate DeLay was kept aware of the fundraising activities that were taking place. (DeLay’s daughter was a paid consultant to two fund-raising committees that pumped money into the races.)

Nevertheless, the official familiar with investigation said investigators would have to establish that DeLay "acted to promote" the illegal activity, and that such evidence had not been forthcoming.

"To indict and prosecute someone, we have to be able to show not just that they were aware of something," the official explained. "We have to show that they engaged in enough conduct to make them party to the offense."

There were also jurisdictional hurdles, the official said.

"For a penal code offense [such as money laundering] we would have to find something done in Travis County, Texas, to be able to indict," the officials said. "And [DeLay] wasn’t here very often."

here for more.

I wonder if this mysterious "official" used by CBS as a source is a Republican. Why? Well, in addition to the fact that it's hard to throw a rock in Texas without hitting one of those scalawags, there's this from the Houston Chronicle:

None 'off the hook' in probe

A Travis County prosecutor Monday said no one is "off the hook" in the investigation of a political committee founded by U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land.

Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox, who is leading the investigation, said all individuals associated with Texans for a Republican Majority are still potential suspects in the case. But Cox said no further grand jury investigation or potential indictments will occur before January.

"No one has ever named Tom DeLay or any other individual as a target in this investigation. Nor have we ever said that anyone is off the hook," Cox said.

Cox said District Attorney Ronnie Earle "has repeatedly said that anybody who committed a crime is a target in this investigation. And this investigation is ongoing."

Cox reacted to a CBS News report that said DeLay is unlikely to be indicted in the case by saying, "It would be premature to talk about who may or may not be indicted at this point."

here for the rest.

Clearly, this "off the hook" thing is an attempt, as Eric Alterman might say, to work the refs. That is, it's all about spin and public perception of the scandal, which could become extremely important if DeLay is ultimately indicted. If the idea that DeLay is "off the hook" becomes firmly planted in the public consciousness, "common knowledge" among journalists, it makes dismissing a possible indictment as being politically motivated even easier for Republicans, which allows them to continue worshipping their Lizard King, nuzzling at his slimy, scaly teat.

Of course the Republicans are already trying to minimize the impact of the scandal by dismissing the investigation of DeLay as being politically motivated. That was the rationale behind the recent House GOP rule change that would allow DeLay to continue as Majority Leader even if indicted. And the whole thing's got the guy who's leading the investigation hopping mad. From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Earle lashes out over DeLay support

Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, who is leading an investigation into possible illegal campaign spending, lashed out at congressional Republicans today, chastising their decision to change their rules in order to protect U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Last week, congressional Republicans voted to change a rule that requires an indicted leader to relinquish his position, which would allow DeLay to maintain his power if indicted in the ongoing investigation.

"Politicians in Congress are responsible for the leaders they choose. Their choices reflect their moral values," Earle wrote in an opinion piece published in The New York Times. "The cynical destruction of moral values at the top makes it hard for law enforcement to do its job

here for more.

This just keeps getting better. I can't wait for the next episode: if I understand correctly, William Shatner, dressed in a torn shirt, will fight Tom DeLay to the death on a rocky, desert planet using only primitive weapons. Will DeLay's superior reptilian strength prevail? Or will Shatner's human ingenuity and Canadian chutzpa win out?

Wait, I'm imagining things again.

Separated at birth?