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Trent Lott Takes the Money and Doesn't Run

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Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Ms) announced on Monday that he was leaving the United States Senate, after 35 years in government service. Elected to represent his state of Mississippi for six years, he is resigning early, by the end of the year.

Lott ruled out health problems for his early departure. "Let me make it clear -- there are no health problems. I feel fine." He also denied that the change in lobbying laws (prohibiting senators from becoming lobbyists for two years, as opposed to one year at present), which kicks in on December 31, right after his re$ignation takes place, had anything to do with his decision.

Hey, one honest answer out of two isn't bad.

The good news is that Mr. Lott's nose didn't grow to enormous lengths when explaining that the change in lobbying laws had nothing to do with his deci$ion to leave early the second-highest Republican position in the United $tates $enate. Nor did his head explode from the enormous pressure building up from his effort to keep a straight face.

The word used to describe lobbying in many news articles on the story was "lucrative." That's like describing snow as "white." Actually, con$idering that Mr. Lott is the Minority Whip (did I mention that he's the $econd-ranking Republican in the United $tates $enate?), it's more like describing sugar as "sugary."

Now, Trent Lott ha$ every right to leave the United $tate$ $enate for any rea$on he want$. Oh, sure, leaving early, after getting elected by the citizens of one's $tate, is perhaps a bit of bad form. (Hey, at least there's one Republican now unwilling to stay the course...) But if Trent Lott want$ to leave, that's hi$ right. Okay, leaving early when you've been elected by your $tate to serve, and when your fellow Republican$ have made you their $econd-highe$t leader in the $enate, just so you can make gob$ of "lucrative" money is even $eedier than u$ual, but hey, thi$ i$ Trent Lott we're talking about, $o who are we to quibble?

In the end, though, thi$ i$ more than ju$t Trent Lott leaving the $enate. Thi$ i$ about a$ picture-perfect an image of the Republican Party as there i$, stripping away all the flowery denial$ and getting right down to the bare bone$, and $howing what Republican$ truly think about government.

After all, thi$ i$ the party of - supposedly - "small" government (Pre$ident George Bu$h's ma$$ive increase notwithstanding). So small that its patron saint Grover Norqui$t has said he'd like to be able to drown it in a bathtub. $o $mall that its abhorrence of rai$ing taxes for needed repairs allowed the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis to collap$e. $o $mall that its refu$al to fund needed repair$ allowed the New Orleans levee$ to be breeched. $o $mall that over$ight of consumer protection allowed dangerous children's toys to pour into the country by the million$.

$o $mall, that the $econd-highe$t ranking Republican in the United $tate$ $enate ha$ willingly given up hi$ job in an election year in order to beat the deadline and $queeze in one extra year of "lucrative" lobbying. That'$ how little Trent Lott think$ of government, and it'$ ju$t a too-ideal analogy of the Republican Party.

Forget governing. Forget government. Forget the good of the people. Get your ca$h. Find your next Jack Abramoff. Take the money and run. Ladie$ and gentlemen, meet Your Republican Party.

Oh, sure, Democrat$ take lobbying money, too. And Democrats have left their elected offices early before, and will again. But nothing this egregiou$ ha$ been seen on this $cale in U.$. hi$tory with Republicans$ going to jail out of criminal greed in drove$ - from "Duke" Cunningham to Bob Ney, David $afavian, Neil Volz and more - at least since the Teapot Dome $candal. (Hint: Republican$.) Name the last $enate or Hou$e leader who quit their job early...for any reason. Not ju$t to make an extra year of money, just - well, for ANY reason???!

Trent Lott leaving the $enate Minority Whip in an election year for "lucrative" lobbying money is not a $candal. It's ju$t... $o Republican.

Democrats aren't saints, God knows. They have their massive, painfully-annoying flaws...and regularly show them off while attacking one another. (And when they grab money, they're so incompetent they don't know what to do with it and stick in their freezer.) But thi$ flaw - not caring about government and not caring as a re$ult of lava-$pewing volcanoe$ of money - that'$ pure Republican. And it'$ a flaw that far exceed$ all other$, because if you don't care about government, then quit trying to run the country and ruin it for the rest of us.

Some people, you see, think government is about helping the good of the people. Not them$elve$.