News & Politics

Tom's Cosmetic Make-Over

Sadly for Tom, there's no cosmetic procedure that will cover the ugly gaps in his ethical behavior.
Breaking news from the political front in our Nation's Capitol: Tom DeLay has undergone an extreme make-over!

The thuggish, ethically-impaired house majority leader, who likes to be called "The Hammer" for his take-no-prisoners political style, apparently is getting PR advice to develop something of a softer appearance. For example, instead of his dark, slicked-down, Snidely-Whiplash-style hairdo, Tom is currently sporting a friendlier, pouffier do, and he's even had cosmetic dentistry to fix the gap between his two front teeth.

Sadly for Tom, however, there's no cosmetic procedure that will cover the ugly gaps in his ethical behavior. While he has been claiming that all criticism of him is a politically-motivated, "seedy attempt... to embarrass me," he's the seedy one, and he's embarrassing himself, the Republican loyalists trying to defend him, and the entire congress.

Let's chronicle the seediness. DeLay was first reprimanded by the bipartisan house ethics committee in 1997 for essentially letting campaign donors buy legislative favors, then again in 1999 for threatening to kill the legislation of an industry group because it had hired a Democrat as its top lobbyist. Last year, Tom got three new spankings from the ethics committee—one for giving special access to a corporate campaign contributor, another for using a federal agency for partisan political purposes, and a third for trying to bribe another member of congress to vote with him.

This year, DeLay reacted to all of these spankings by having the Republican chairman of the ethics committee fired and by rigging the rules so the committee won't investigate his behavior again. But he's also under scrutiny by a Texas grand jury and by others for such ethical lapses as illegally laundering corporate money, taking four junkets illegally paid for by lobbyists and foreign agents, and funneling half-a-million dollars in campaign cash to his wife and daughter.

Tom doesn't need a cosmetic make-over, he needs an entire ethics transplant.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush," from Viking Press. For more information, visit
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