Friday, December 02, 2005

Strangling Mary Poppins

From guest writer Juniper Flesco:

Early this week Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Republican representative from the 50th district (San Diego's north county) of California, plead guilty to taking $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors whom he then gave favorable treatment. At the end of Cunningham's tearful "boo hoo" press conference, a reporter pointedly asked, "Why did you do it?!" Cunningham just kept walking away. (Cunningham's long letter to constituents proclaiming his innocence, written when the bribery allegations first surfaced, seems so quaint now.)

Once you get past the big-ticket items like the million-dollar houses and yachts, Cunningham's laundry list of bribes is kinda funny. For example, who buys a $13,500 Rolls Royce that needs $18,000 in repairs? Cunningham also got a couple of groovy $9,000 Laser Shot shooting simulators — good for working out homicidal impulses.

I am against schadenfreude, or taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. But this is not misfortune, it is a supreme asshole getting what he deserves. Cunningham, a former "Top Gun" fighter pilot in Vietnam, is notorious for saying Vietnam war protesters should be lined up and shot. He later said the same about liberal Democrats. Cunningham also said he opposed "homos in the military" and argued for a flag-burning amendment by shamelessly invoking 9/11. He was present during the 1991 Tailhook scandal, but dismissed later efforts to combat sexual harassment in the military as "political correctness." On a smaller scale, Cunningham loves giving people the finger.

By taking bribes, Cunningham was really giving everyone the finger, including his donors, his staff, and especially the military he claimed to love.

Hopefully Cunningham will not go down alone. How many people were in on the bribery? What other U.S. officials are taking bribes? And why was the House Ethics Committee completely silent while Cunningham was being investigated?

"Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you want to strangle Mary Poppins," Cunningham said in 2002 after the military lost two F-14s. Now might be a good time to get Mary Poppins a bodyguard.