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The John Edwards Story Invites Us to Seek Out the Skeletons In Republican Closets

09/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Is this another skeleton in the Democratic closet that Barack Obama must struggle to overcome?" David Gregory on the revelation of John Edwards' extramarital affair.

OK, so now we know the new ground rules. The private life of John Edwards, who currently neither seeks nor holds public office, is a legitimate story for mainstream media because he was a hypocrite and because he lied.

As for hypocrisy, check out Alabama's chief law enforcement officer, who says the state can put someone in jail for up to one year for selling a sex toy. "I took a little bit of pride in the state being first in something that is good, decent and right," said Attorney General Troy King in 2004, when Alabama became the first state to refuse recognition a same-sex marriage begun in Massachusetts. That year, he reaffirmed an editorial he wrote as a law student in the early 1990s in the University of Alabama student newspaper. "The existence of the GayLesbian Alliance on this campus is an affront to the state of Alabama, its citizenry, this university and its students," he wrote. So would an Attorney General who conducted a homosexual affair with a subordinate in betrayal of his wife and three children be an affront to the state of Alabama and its citizenry? King isn't talking.

So far, the media has given Attorney General Troy King a pass, even though anyone above age 12 has figured out that King's "no comment" responses about the affair constitute a de facto admission. Welcome to the Alabama, where politics, the law and the press are beyond parody.

In July 31 radio interview, Troy King was adamant. Nobody was going to get a look at any of the skeletons in his closet. Nobody was going to examine DNA evidence that might prove King was sending an innocent man to his death. Nobody was going to examine the document that, King claims, impeaches a witness who claims that the death row defendant is innocent. (See Amnesty International's summary of the case against Thomas Arthur.) And nobody is going to get King to respond to "rumors."

Dale Jackson asked the questions, including one about the 2006 homecoming king of Troy University, King's alma mater. (You can't make this stuff up.) More specifically, Jackson, an Alabama radio talk show host, asked King about the meteoric rise in the career of John Godwin, who started working for King as an intern in 2007, when he was a 23-year-old senior majoring in broadcast journalism.

"Soon, he was on the payroll at $10 an hour, and he quickly advanced from there. As early as July 2007, Godwin was named a special administrative assistant earning more than $39,000 a year. Within nine months of arriving as an intern, Godwin was King's executive assistant, drawing more than $57,000 a year - close to what entry-level lawyers earn in the office." The Birmingham News, July 29, 2008

[Some perspective: Median household income in Alabama, which has declined consistently since 2001, was $38,0000 in 2006, 20% below the national average.]

The last few minutes of Jackson's interview were devoted to Godwin's employment and related matters:

Jackson: "Somebody went from being an intern to somebody making $57,000 a year in less than a year. Can you justify that promotion?"

King: "Sure I can. We don't make promotions here that I can't justify."

Jackson: "OK"

King: "I have a chief of staff I have people who make recommendations to me. And one of the things I've known my whole life Dale is it may be expensive to hire good people but it's even more expensive to hire bad people because they make bad decisions and they're not good stewards and they don't work hard. And paying people a little bit of money who doesn't do an effective job is for the people of our state is a lot more irresponsible than paying good people what they're worth. And that's what we're doing here."

Well, that settles everything. And soon enough...

Jackson: "Another story that's out there right now a story that eventually you're going to have to answer to a story that eventually you're going to have to address so I figure I'm going to be the one who asks the question. There have been these rumors all over the blogoshere , there are rumors everywhere I get them every single day, I don't see it going away, I see it getting worse, worse and worse. And the rumor says that you were caught with a male aide [i.e. John Godwin] by your wife, she threw you out of the house because you were gay and that there was some sort of problem going on there. Is there any part of that rumor, any part of it..."

King: "Hey Dale.."

Jackson: "That is true in any way shape or form?"

King: "Hey Dale, to this point, the answer has been the same as it is today. I don't discuss rumors."

Jackson: "So your answer is a no comment basically."

King: "I don't talk ...I don't discuss rumors."

Jackson: "Do you think there is going to come a time when you think this is going to become an issue you're going to have to address?"

King: "I'm not gonna...You're persistent, but I don't discuss rumors. I haven't and I'm not going to..."

Jackson: "Do you think that this is a legitimate story in the state of Alabama if it was another individual? Would you not think that it would warrant an answer from the person in question because honestly Mr. Attorney General honestly a 'No, it's not true' or 'No, parts of it are not true' etc. would do a lot to kill the story? but a no comment in opinion says, 'What's up?'"

King: "I can't speak for what somebody else might do. All I can tell you Dale is. I have lots of things to do, and one of them is to not discuss rumors I am not going to begin discussing rumors. Sorry, but I'm not going to do it."

Jackson: "Alright so there's a no comment on that. Attorney General Troy King thank you for taking the time to talk to us."

Jackson reacted later on his blog, aptly named The Attack Machine:

"'All I can tell you is... ... ... I have lots of things to do and one of them is to not to discuss rumors.'

"Wow! How much time does 'not discussing rumors' take up in an average day?
"Why not just deny it?
"I am not gay here is how the conversation with me would have went:
"Q: There are some rumors floating around that you are gay, Dale are you gay?
"A: No, I am not gay, those rumors are false.
"Lets just say his non-answer answer really makes me wonder. Why not just clear the air?"

Duh. The National Enquirer may not pay someone to stalk and photograph the comings and goings of Troy King, but some enterprising backpack journalist may want to make a name for himself. According to one source, King and Godwin are still exercising together at the Montgomery Central YMCA.