Given his personal familiarity with investigations — hey, he’s been on the receiving end of them a number of times!–Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is uniquely qualified to chair the House Oversight Committee, according to Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh.

Detailing his checkered past, Walsh writes, “The man Republican House Speaker John Boehner put in charge of investigating government wrongdoing was himself indicted for stealing a car, accused of stealing at least one other car, arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, and twice suspected of insurance fraud — and once extensively investigated by authorities for arson, because his former business associates accused him, on the record, of burning down a building to collect the insurance payout.”

All of this is important to look at because Issa has risen to national prominence in the Republican Party recently — thanks in part to the myriad scandals that have rocked the Obama administration, scandals that he’s now charged with investigating.

This perhaps explains why the “silly, camera-chasing” congressman from San Diego is getting so much pushback these days from both Democrats and Republicans. In the wake of calling White House press secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” this weekend because of statements he made about the IRS scandal, for example, Issa was criticized by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and “scandal-drunk” Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“Issa’s extremist idiocy lets ‘reasonable’ Republicans denounce him and/or his rhetoric, while they continue their own ethically, intellectually and politically blinkered crusades against President Obama,” Walsh explains.

But let’s go back to Issa’s past. In case you’ve forgotten, this is the same man who helped pave the way for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s tenure as governor of California after the 2003 recall of Gray Davis. And we know what a mess that turned out to be.

Joan Walsh in Salon:

Issa financed the recall, and hoped to run for governor himself, but then the Los Angeles Times and other California papers began reporting on his earlier legal troubles. There was particular attention to his indictment for grand theft when he reported his Mercedes stolen after his brother William sold it; William had earlier obtained the right to do so from his brother. The two men had different stories for a while, and authorities believed they’d conspired to sell the car, report a “theft” and collect insurance on it.

…In the end, the scrutiny doomed Issa’s chance to run for governor – but his wealth funded the successful recall of Davis. Sure, Issa could continue to hold his House seat in his conservative San Diego district, but a guy as ethically compromised (and as blinkered ideologically) as Issa could never win a statewide election in California – let alone a national one. So he tearfully stepped aside for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So that’s the guy who’s heading up the House GOP’s investigation into alleged Obama White House “scandals.”

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— Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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