Paul Jacob

Marion Barry's audience has come to expect a little extra from the man, like when he proudly proclaimed that crime was down in DC . . . "except for the murders." His name has become a trademark of excellence in entertainment.

We learned to expect more years ago. The then-mayor wasn't merely arrested for smoking crack cocaine — any fool politician can get himself arrested. Barry managed to bring his daredevil act to the world stage via FBI video.

That was in 1990, during his third term as mayor of America's capital city. Afterward, Barry spent seven months in rehab centers and six months in federal prison making what he called "a remarkable recovery."

As Barry's own website modestly put it, "He served his time in prison and made a triumphant return to Washington." Kinda like he had won the Superbowl.

After his stay in the hoosgow, Barry's hometown audience was so appreciative that they elected him first to the city council and then to a fourth term as mayor.

Unfortunately, not every clown has the business sense of Charlie Chaplin. As Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson put it, "Barry performed so poorly that it took years to get the city's finances back in shape." Burdened by such downbeat criticism, Barry retired from the political stage after four terms as mayor.

Yet, the limelight is in his blood. Soon Barry was eyeing a city council race in 2002. But then the U.S. Park Police reported that they found a trace of marijuana and $5 worth of crack cocaine in his Jaguar, and he scuttled his plans to perform more public services. The police declined to prosecute.

Barry was back at it in 2004, telling the Post that park police had planted the drugs in his car. What comedic timing — for his next campaign.

The former mayor ran for a city council seat representing Ward 8, the poorest ward in the city. He slipped by with just 96 percent of the vote in the General Election — proving Washington, D.C. is yet another bastion of political competition.

Barry has continued to provide both drama and comedy in a seemingly endless (and loopy) loop. Recently, it came to light that this big-government politician, who spends other people's money so easily, sort of forgot to pay most of his federal and city income taxes for the last six years. Oops!

Barry is now free on bond pending his sentencing next month on the tax evasion charges. As part of his release, after pleading guilty, Barry was drug tested. And he tested positive for cocaine. The FBI filmed him smoking crack way back in 1990 and that powerful drug is still in his system 15 years later!

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.