Debra J. Saunders

 Instead, Hastert and Pelosi issued a joint statement demanding that the federal government return "the papers it unconstitutionally seized." Bush responded by sealing the seized records for 45 days.

 Be it noted that the FBI had a subpoena and the House raid followed a search of Jefferson's home last August that netted $90,000 stashed in Jefferson's freezer -- money that allegedly came from a $100,000 bribe captured on videotape. The feds had tried to get Jefferson to honor the subpoena for months -- but to no avail.

 Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told The Washington Times, "Make no mistake, the American people will come to one conclusion -- that congressional leaders are trying to protect their own from valid investigation." That's certainly how I see it.

 If Hastert wants to do something for his institution, he should lay off Department of Justice investigators and lean on Republicans to stop larding pork-barrel projects onto the bill to provide supplemental funds for the war on terrorism and hurricane spending.

 Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., led an insurgent effort against the orgy of log-rolling last week, but he failed. "We have one of our former members in jail right now for basically selling earmarks. He was able to get his earmarks through the legislative process without being challenged.

 Jack Abramoff reportedly referred to the Appropriations Committee as an "earmark favor factory," Flake told The New York Times.

 Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-Texas, who chairs the subcommittee that produces the agriculture appropriations bill, responded that it was "really bad form'' for Flake to mention the scandals on the House floor.

 Really bad form? Try: padding emergency spending bills with pet projects without finding ways to pay for them.

 Try: living large off lobbyist lucre when you're supposed to be serving constituents. Try: showing more outrage at an FBI search than the possibility that a member may have accepted bribes.

 To paraphrase what the juror said, it is a disgrace.

Debra J. Saunders

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