So, long-serving Republican Alaska Senator Ted Stevens has been indicted on seven felony counts of falsely reporting "hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of things of value from a private corporation." According to the indictment, the total number of alleged gifts were greater than $250,000; that said, the litany of home improvements and additions cited by the Justice Department representative at this afternoon's press conference suggests that $250K is a lowball estimate indeed. He had a lot done.
Stevens, 84, has had what has been described as an "iron grip" on Alaskan politics for decades, since he was appointed to the Senate in 1968, won a special election two years later and was re-elected six times. The largest airport in Alaska is named for him — the Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage.
Sure, Stevens is in the news now — but there is one news program that has been on him for ages, tipped off by his notorious temper and propensity for saying whatever the hell he wants. That's the Daily Show, where I can recall first hearing about Stevens via a segment on his explosion on the Senate floor over the pork barrel "Bridge to Nowhere" project. Stewart has been on Stevens' case for literally years, way before the Senator voted against net neutrality and then justified his vote by explaining that the Internet was series of tubes (and not, in fact, a truck). Stewart gets to that, believe, me, but he was on to Stevens way before that: "Yes, it seems like everywhere you turn, every time you're stunned by government's waste of an egregious nature, Ted Stevens is there." Here's his primer on Stevens from December 2005, "Who The F**k is Ted Stevens?"
...and here's how the Daily Show made sure we didn't forget about it:
The "Series of Tubes" got the Daily Show treatment both in an expert evaluation from John Hodgman...
...and a send-up from Stewart using vintage Stevens clips:
Here's how news of the Stevens investigation was treated last summer:
...and here's Jason Jones exploring the repercussions:
Oh, yes, and this is how presumptive Republican candidate John McCain — so against pork-barrel spending — reacted when given the opportunity to speak up about his long-serving colleague, so vocal against a bill about which he had absolutely no idea:
"I didn't want to disillusion him?" Fight the power, John McCain.
Amanda Coyne: Life Is A Picnic For Democrats In Alaska [HuffPo]
Your Own Personal Internet [Wired]
Ted Stevens: Daily Show [Daily Show]
Eric Alterman on Stevens' Veiled Threats to the Press for Investigating Him [HuffPo]