Burt Prelutsky
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Now that America's favorite ogre, Jack Abramoff, is safely behind bars and no longer in a position to lead innocent politicians astray, I know that I for one will certainly be sleeping better.

And perhaps in a few years, when he's released, the authorities can monitor him as they do pedophiles to make certain Abramoff is never allowed to be alone with a congressman or to come within 2,000 feet of a political fundraiser.

If I don't seem to be as outraged as some people over Abramoff's crimes against humanity, I suppose it's because I assume these political payoffs take place every day of the week, not just in Washington, D.C., but in Albany and Springfield, Austin, Salem and Sacramento, and every other state capitol and city hall in America.

It takes money — and plenty of it — to run for public office in this country. So how surprised can any of us be when we discover that those who wish to further their political ambitions will take bribes, or as they're more commonly referred to, campaign contributions, from those wishing to further their business ambitions? It's like being shocked when the NCAA sanctions certain colleges for recruiting infractions. After all, one doesn't become a football or basketball superpower by happy accident.

To me, speaking as an American who has often boasted that we have the best politicians that money can buy, the most shocking aspect of all this is how cheaply so many of these public servants can be bought and sold.

What always surprises me is that politicians, whatever their party affiliation, seem unable to grasp the fact that their sins will inevitably come to light. Are they just stupid or arrogant or possibly even naive? Perhaps it's a combination of all three. You might think it's absurd to picture these aging veterans of the Beltway campaigns as innocent babes. But you should keep in mind that they are all as carefully swaddled as newborns. It's perfectly reasonable if sometimes they happen to forget that they're mere mortals. Let's face it —

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