09/24/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Swift Boat Sugar Daddy's Other Water Issues?

Looks like Harold Simmons doesn't mind spending big money for what he believes in, starting with ... Harold Simmons.

Simmons is the corporate raider and sept-billionaire [worth more than $7 billion, according to Forbes] who gave millions to the Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry in 2004.

And now, according to my LA Times colleague Dan Morain, he's written a check for all of the $2.87 million it's costing to run ominous-sounding ads in Ohio and Pennsylvania about Barack Obama's relationship with William Ayers, now an Illinois professor and a former member of the Weather Underground. He served on a charity's board with Obama and hosted a fundraiser for him 13 years ago. [Obama has said Ayers "engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old.'']

Here in California, where our thirst for water is even longer than our memories, we knew about the Texas billionaire long before 2004. He thumbed his nose at us way back, during the drought of 1989-90.

In the rich Santa Barbara suburb of Montecito, the part-time getaway hometown to the likes of Oprah Winfrey, water was then so scarce that the water district regulated its use, and some Montecitans painted their grass green or let their gardens go naturally brown, the way that people patriotically patched their tires and their stockings during World War II.

Not Simmons. He spent only about ten days a month at his 23-acre Montecito estate, but no way was he going along with the local conservation program. After he kept the taps wide open to maintain his gardens on uber-green, the water district finally turned his flow to a trickle.

Undeterred, Simmons applied for a permit to drill his own well and even paid a private company to truck in yet more water. He was fined $25,000 after using enough public water to keep your average family of four supplied for... 28 years.

And this guy is once again using his checkbook to lecture all of us on what constitutes good citizenship?