"To the Point" with Warren Olney was tons of fun. I went on right after Rep. Dreier. He had just sweet-talked his way through ten minutes of how he was taking his task very seriously, getting input from all sorts of people, including John McCain and Democrat Steny Hoyer, and while he wouldn't give details of the Republican reform proposal, he promised "bold changes," and mooted such proposals as a ban on campaign contributions from lobbyists, a ban on all gifts to Members of Congress and all privately-paid travel (all of which are supported by a majority of the public, according to a new Washington Post poll).
Yeah, right, I thought. Waiting to go live on the radio, I instant-messaged Josh Marshall and asked him if he remembered where Dreier stood on the vote on the DeLay Rule. That was back in late 2004, when the Republican majority in the House moved to protect then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay from being forced to step down from his leadership post if he was indicted. Sure enough, Dreier had written a constituent, explaining why he had backed DeLay in that secret vote. His rationale was that "a local political operative could remove a Congressional leader at a key or sensitive time by bringing an indictment against him or her for political purposes," a reference to Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle, who the Republicans were then trying to demonize as being on a partisan witch-hunt against DeLay.
Well, now DeLay is no longer Majority Leader (though he has placed himself in Duke Cunningham's old seat on the House Appropriations Committee, a power seat to have), prosecutors in the Justice Department, who no one can accuse of partisanship, are on his tail, and who does Speaker Hastert put in to draft the Republican reform package? A DeLay loyalist, Dreier.
Don't forget, Speaker Hastert, who somehow still has this grandfatherly image, was behind the removal this past February of three relatively independent Republicans on the House Ethics Committee, punishing them for their mild rebuke of DeLay's ethics.
The fish rots from the head down, someone once said.