What a pity that Tom DeLay gave up his congressional seat just when things were going so well.

Reading the list of political achievements he recited in his farewell speech to thunderous applause from his GOP colleagues, one is perplexed as to why he is walking away from it all. Surely the FBI agents and Texas prosecutors who are hounding him following the guilty pleas of former top DeLay associates are unaware that he is doing the Lord’s work?

” . . . God is my witness and history is my judge,” DeLay proclaimed dramatically, insisting he has at all times acted “honorably and honestly.” Modestly placing himself in the company of Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, he celebrated his engineering of the destruction of wicked liberalism by any means necessary.

One was left to wonder why a claimant of such stellar achievement and praise from on high should have come to so fear the judgment of the lowly voters in his own district that he withdrew from his reelection race. Couldn’t he have just smooth-talked them into believing that when he took all that money from oil and gambling hustlers he was once again doing the Lord’s work?

“I did a good job,” DeLay told the House of Representatives on Thursday.

“I helped build the largest political coalition in the last 50 years. The K Street project and the K Street strategy I am very proud of.” As well he should be, for it was no easy task to harness the money of lobbyists milking big government for all it’s worth to a conservative movement that pretended to be against government waste while racking up the biggest deficits in our nation’s history.

DeLay was the point man, but his rackets, so basic to the success of the modern Republican Party, will continual to churn without his guidance. Despite a slew of indictments and plea bargains for the DeLay clique — including Jack Abramoff, “one of my closest and dearest friends” — the corporate lobbyists should not be overly saddened by his departure. After all, as DeLay pointed out, “my good friend and my most trusted partner and colleague,” House Speaker Denny Hastert, is still in charge to carry on DeLay’s noble work. Since Hastert welcomed this most recent DeLay embrace, might we not also assume that he too favors the influence-peddling run out of the D.C. house that served as DeLay’s office, by current and former members of his staff?

What is the born-again East Texas Christian word for chutzpah? Whatever you call it, DeLay displayed enormous amounts when he, a GOP party boss who long fought for the expansion of federal government influence over all areas of Americans’ private lives up to and including when to pull the plug on brain-dead relatives, castigated liberals for wanting “more control over people’s lives and decisions.”

Speaking of religion, DeLay was not at a loss for pious words in his speech, none of them contrite. Never mind that one of his uglier schemes saw him teaming up with ex-Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed to exploit the anti-gambling passions of some good Christian folk to aid the gambling schemes of a particular Indian tribe that gave him and Reed money by the truckload. They also worked to get billions in U.S. aid for the Russian oil mafia and exemption from U.S. labor laws for Pacific Island sweatshop owners. That might appear sleazy to some secular liberals, but DeLay remains confident that as the top congressional wheeler-dealer he was always acting in the service of the Lord: “In this House, I found my life’s calling and my soul’s savior.”

He also stated “this is a happy day for me,” calling to mind that surreal grin he beamed in his now infamous mug shot. But isn’t it strange that he would be so happy to give up his life’s calling? Of course, it is possible that DeLay is a bit confused on the religious implications of his work in Congress given that he has been denied the services of his onetime spiritual advisor and chief of staff, Edwin A. Buckham.

Buckham, who headed the U.S. Family Network, which mostly aided his and DeLay’s families, is now the subject of inquiries by the FBI. His lobbying firm carried DeLay’s wife, Christine, on its payroll and overall is credited with funneling more than a half million bucks to the DeLay family — including a recently revealed pension account created for Mrs. DeLay. So that’s what they mean by family values!

In his farewell, DeLay did not refer to his family’s legal complications but went out of his way to celebrate his wife’s work on behalf of foster children. Sounds like a future sentencing plea bargain to me.

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