Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Chronic shows two faces

A few days ago the Houston Chronic published their opinion regarding the unfairness of Tom DeLay's current legal proceedings:

DeLay Monday asked the appeals court to expedite the case. The court should grant DeLay's request. For DeLay, justice delayed equals political downfall and the lost power and prestige that go with it. If DeLay is found innocent of the remaining charges against him, he deserves a chance to return to the status quo ante.

My opinion: the editorial board of the Houston Chronicle really ought to get out of the business of telling a judge how to run his courtroom, and let this case run its course. If the timing is unfortunate for the defendant, then that's too bad for him.

But the news department made up for the edit board's faux pas by publishing the news of DeLay's lavish lifestyle as the self-declared "Federal Government":

Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.

Instead of his personal expense, the meals and trips for DeLay and his associates were paid with donations collected by the campaign committees, political action committees and children's charity the Texas Republican created during his rise to the top of Congress. His lawyer says the expenses are part of DeLay's effort to raise money from Republicans and to spread the GOP message.

Put them together and a lifestyle emerges.

"A life to enjoy. The excuse to escape," Palmas del Mar, an oceanside Puerto Rican resort visited by DeLay, promised in a summer ad on its Web site as a golf ball bounced into a hole and an image of a sunset appeared.

The Caribbean vacation spot has casino gambling, horseback riding, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing and private beaches.

"He was very friendly. We always see the relaxed side of politicians," said Daniel Vassi, owner of the French bistro Chez Daniel at Palmas del Mar. Vassi said DeLay has eaten at his restaurant every year for the last three, and was last there in April with about 20 other people, including the resort's owners.

Wait a minute. DeLay eats a swanky French restaurant? Frequently?

It's over for him, then.

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