Good grief, it's spreading!
Another Texas politician has come down with the tragic disease known as "Amazing Stupidity Syndrome." A.S.S. attacks the lobe of the brain that controls one's ethical behavior, apparently causing the moral synapses in that region to go on the fritz, thus allowing the stupidity hormone to seep in and take charge. The main symptom is that afflicted legislators develop sticky fingers, causing then to double-bill for airline tickets, rooms at luxury resorts, lavish meals, etc.
It starts with a story about the guy who keeps putting the "goober" in gubernatorial: Rick Perry, the splendidly coiffed Republican governor of Texas. Then, add the huge corporate entity of AT&T, which bought 700 copies of Perry's new book. But that's only the start of the story, which is really about how corporations, corporate-funded right-wing organizations and corporate-backed politicians happily hum "Kumbaya" together.
In December, Perry gave another of his political rants against Washington and its governmental powers. Ironically, his speech was in Washington -- delivered to an appreciative audience of lobbyists and other Washington powers. Perry thinks irony is a country near Iran, so he missed the absurdity of it all.
AT&T, which sponsored the luncheon where the guv held forth, has beaucoup business before the Texas state government and is a half-million-dollar donor to Perry's gubernatorial campaigns. They're tight. So tight that the corporation shelled out $13,000 to buy 700 copies of the governor's book, giving them to every luncheon attendee.
Perry donated his share of the sale to the Texas Public Policy Foundation. What's that? A virulently far-right corporate front that develops much of Perry's agenda -- and, in turn, backs him.
Then there's the American Legislative Exchange Council, the group that invited Perry to do his shtick about the horrors of inside-Washington elites. ALEC is richly funded by such extremist laissez-fair corporate barons as the mulitbillionaire Koch brothers, who're among the most elite players in Washington.
So, let's recap: A corporate front group has a meeting in Washington, inviting the ambitious corporate-cozy Texas governor to strut his stuff at a lobbyist-infested lunch sponsored by his favor-seeking AT&T pals, who buy a bunch of his books, the proceeds of which go to another corporate front that backs Perry in exchange for him carrying their agenda. Everybody's back gets scratched -- and it's all done in the guise of fighting power-hungry elites.
But it's not just the corporate-hugging governor of Texas who suffers from Amazing Stupidity Syndrome.
Last October, Texas Rep. Joe Driver was diagnosed with A.S.S. after a news report revealed that for years he'd been billing both the taxpayers and his political fund for the same travel expenses.
Joe, a Republican Texas lawmaker for 20 years, defended himself by asserting that he didn't know it was wrong to be reimbursed twice. Didn't know? That's when we knew that poor Joe was eaten up with A.S.S.
And now, yet another Texas legislator, Rep. Dan Flynn, has been stricken. Another Republican, he's a former bank examiner who claims to be an expert in -- get this -- financial management. But Dan claims that he's been too busy traveling to account for a rash of double-billing since 2006 for stays at swank hotels from Boston to San Francisco.
You'll be glad to know, however, that Texas legislative leaders are now at work on a cure for A.S.S.
Jail time, you ask? No, no -- they intend "to design a form (to) make it more transparent" to members that double-billing is an ethical boo-boo that should be avoided. Both Joe and Dan say that they will be fully supportive of the form reform.
Let's hope that it's ready soon so we can make it available to other states experiencing outbreaks of Amazing Stupidity Syndrome among their lawmakers. Perhaps we need an A.S.S. telethon to prevent a pandemic of this tragic disease.
National radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and author of the book, Swim Against The Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow, Jim Hightower has spent three decades battling the Powers That Be on behalf of the Powers That Ought To Be - consumers, working families, environmentalists, small businesses, and just-plain-folks.
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