Indicted Representative Tom DeLay, forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him with a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.
This is the Republican's version of in-kind replacement. Delay was given the committee seat vacated when Duke Cunningham (R-California) stepped down after he pleaded guilty to accepting $2.4 million in bribes.
Bill Burton of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said, "Allowing Tom DeLay to sit on a committee in charge of giving out money is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA."
I think Burton's analogy is flawed. Putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA wouldn't be nearly as outrageous as putting Tom Delay back on the Appropriations Committee is. Brownie's just incompetent, which by GOP standards these days is downright virtuous.
There's more, of course.
Delay also got a seat on the House subcommittee that oversees the Justice Department, which is presently conducting an investigation of the Jack Abramoff influence peddling scandal. Delay, as you may know, had close ties to the U.S. Family Network, an advocacy group almost entirely funded by corporations linked to Jack Abramoff.
The Justice Department itself is under investigation by the Senate Judiciary committee over the NSA spying shenanigans. Watch the contest develop between Delay and Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) to see who can shout the loudest, "Everything they did was legal!"
The house Justice Department committee also has responsibility for NASA, and hence the Johnson Space Center, which is located in Delay's Houston area district.
Funny thing. As Associated Press and other news sources have reported, Bush appointed NASA Inspector General Robert W. Cobb is under investigation for allegedly failing to investigate safety violations and retaliating against whistle blowers. At least 16 individuals have files complaints against him.
The agency conducting the inquiry is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an agency under the Justice Department, which is overseen by the House subcommittee Tom Delay just got assigned to.
Hold on, there's one last thing.
Chris Swecker, assistant director of the FBI's criminal investigative division, is the head of an outfit known as the "Integrity Committee."
To paraphrase Comedy Central's John Stewart, you couldn't make this stuff up, but you wish to God you had to.
And to think that anybody at all criticised Hillary Clinton for saying the U.S. House of Representatives is run like a plantation.