Paul Greenberg

As it goes with these things, every day there is another drip. Which becomes a trickle, then a stream, and soon enough a flood. Maybe even a whole monsoon season. Scandals tend to multiply. It's not that some folks suddenly go bad, as an old boy once told me, it's that they're suddenly found out.

If you'd have asked most Americans on June 18, 1972 -- the day after a third-rate burglary in Washington -- if they ever heard of something called Watergate, they'd probably have just looked at you funny. Water-what?

And if you'd announced just a couple of weeks ago that the IRS was targeting conservative groups with Tea Party or Patriot in their names during the last few years, you would have been relegated to the tinfoil-hat brigade.

Why, sure, mister. And the black helicopters are watching you, too. How about you sit down and have a nice glass of iced tea? We'll get you some help.

But the IRS now has admitted targeting conservative groups for audits and delaying or even preventing them from getting nonprofit status. Naturally, one of the higher-ups at the IRS said its campaign to harass conservative groups wasn't inspired by anybody's politics. But you couldn't help noticing that no group was targeted because it had "moveon" or "99 percent" in its name.

What's more, the IRS is supposed to have let a leftish outfit called ProPublica see supposedly confidential applications from conservative groups. The source for that very serious accusation? ProPublica.

FYI for those who can't be bothered by such details, ProPublica is the kind of media outlet that claims to produce fair, unbiased, objective investigative journalism but leans to port while doing it. It's sort of like the New York Times that way. Which makes it the perfect outfit to get some confidential information from the IRS. At least when that information concerns suspicious types. You know, types with Patriot in their names.

ProPublica -- to its credit -- noted all this in a story and added that the IRS didn't happen to disclose any information about liberal groups in its document dump. What a coincidence.

The IRS stalled some requests from conservative organizations for nonprofit status for more than a year while liberal groups were being approved in the usual fashion.

ABC News found a woman in Ohio, one Marion Bower, who waited two years for her local tea party chapter to be declared tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service. Her story is something else. And so is she.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.