Put the Hammer Down

The old adage says that any halfway decent prosecutor can convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. And that old saw may just be true because this week a grand jury in Travis County, Texas indicted a hammer. Not just any hammer but "The Hammer."

House Majority leader Tom DeLay was indicted on a single count of criminal conspiracy and multiple counts of "cranky old man" and "doesn't work well with others." To say he's not happy now is like saying Barium enemas are not highlighted on many Resort Spa menus. And ironically enough, when I speak of a Barium enema I think of Tom DeLay.

In his press conference denying the charges, Teflon Tom channeled some stoic Beast from the Bible probably named Balthabazar or something. His righteous indignation was enough to smite evil doers right through the TV screen as he characterized his indictment as one of political motivation.

What? Politically motivated? In DC? No! You can't be serious. What next? Lobbyists with tassels on their loafers? What's ludicrous is, in terms of the politically motivated, Tom DeLay wrote the book. District Attorney Ronnie Earle may actually be responsible for royalties to be paid to the subject of the indictment.

DeLay also called Mr Earle's indictment of him "one of the weakest, most baseless indictments in American history." Wow. In American history!?! Say what you will about Mr DeLay faults, a lack of self esteem is apparently not among them. Although it does seem a bit histrionic coming from the man personally responsible for reigniting Bill Clinton's impeachment train just when it seemed most everybody was willing to shut up, go home, and launder their own blue dresses. "Lying to a grand jury is an impeachable offense" was his exact quote. Hmmm, interesting. How bout bribery, extortion and general venality?

What I'm delicately hinting at here is Mr DeLay and ethical lapses are not unfamiliar dance partners. They go together like Chaplin and jerky film. Like grease and skids. Like Spiro Agnew and brown paper bags full of cash. The guy is a walking "12 days of Corruption." "Fiiiiiiive trips to Palm Springs. Four admonishments, three reprimands, two censures ... and an indictment in the Lone Star State."

September. Not a good month for Republicans. Bush's spiritual advisor, Karl Rove; still under a cloud in the Valeri Plame leak. GOP Lobbyist Jack Abramoff; indicted in one case and under investigation in others. Top White House procurement official, David Safavian; charged with obstruction in the Abramoff probe. Majority Leader Doctor Senator Indian Chief Bill Frist; under investigation due to questionable stock sales. And in his talk to the nation from New Orleans, President Bush mis-buttoned his work shirt. That's right. The President of the United States can't even dress himself anymore.

This is not to say that DeLay is screwed dead in the water. For all we know, he could pull a Martha Stewart and come out of this smelling like a rose. I.e., go to prison, lose some weight and end up with a spinoff of "The Apprentice." Instead of Trump's "You're fired," or Stewart's "you don't fit in" he could lift his ideological twin, Dick Cheney's favorite kiss off: "Go f*** yourself."

I smile every time I imagine him practicing that line in front of a mirror.


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