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Vitter, Cunningham and the GOP's Parliament of Whores

July 16, 2007

Some men pay for prostitutes while others get them for free. But whether Senator David Vitter or Rep. Duke Cunningham paid for pleasure with their cash or their votes, their Republican colleagues appear ready to protect their Johns all the same, at least as long as public opinion will allow.
That seems to the lesson emerging from Washington today. While Vitter's GOP friends in Congress went on record to support their man, a new report from the House Intelligence Committee previously withheld by Republicans shows the lengths the panel went to protect the Dukester as his bribery scandal enveloped him.
As former Clinton inquisitor and "traditional marriage" defender David Vitter returns to DC this week from his self-imposed exile, his Republican colleagues are excusing conduct Vitter himself once deemed "morally unfit." Bob Livingston, whose affairs led to his own moral implosion and eventual replacement in Congress by Vitter, said his fellow Louisiana Republican should "pick himself up and charge forward." Arizona Senator John Kyl also rushed to the defense of the serial whoremonger Vitter, "I don't know what it is that he has apologized for, and until it's clear that there's some kind of crime that was committed, that was of such a nature that he should resign, it seems to me that talk is a little premature." And fellow Cajun conservative Bobby Jindal, the frontrunner for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, had apparently joined Vitter in seeking divine intervention:

"Like so many, I have been disappointed by the senator's actions. Even though we are disappointed, my wife and I certainly keep him and his family in our prayers. This is something the senator is going to have to address and I hope he will do that. Certainly, I don't want anybody taking political advantage of it, but it's something he does have to address."

Meanwhile in Washington, a declassified version of an internal report by the House Intelligence Committee shown to the Los Angeles Times shed new light on the Duke Cunningham scandal. Damning revelations depict the committee, then led by eventual CIA chief Porter Goss, "as a dysfunctional entity that served as a crossroads for almost every major figure in the ongoing criminal probe by the Justice Department." The controversial report provides disturbing new details on how Brent Wilkes of defense contractor MZM used cash, gifts and girls to buy committee votes and win contracts from Cunningham, and advance the career of now indicted CIA #3 man Kyle "Dusty" Foggo.
Back in 1992, conservative humorist P.J. O'Rourke penned a cynical screed about the government in Washington titled Parliament of Whores. While no one on the right is doing much laughing these days, the Vitter and Cunningham episodes show O'Rourke epithet still sums up the Republicans in Congress.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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