Rich Galen

Some characters become known for their signature phrase.
Steve Martin: "Well, excuusssssse MEEEEEE."
Gomer Pyle: "Golllllll-EEEE."
Joe Friday: "Just the facts Ma'am."
Mr. Whipple: "Please don't squeeze the Charmin."

U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangle (D-NY) is known for his signature phrase: "All we want is Simple FAI-ness"

Rep. Rangle is the fourth longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Until his current ethical lapses came to light he was the Chairman of the all-powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

After months and months of hoping it would just go away, the House Ethics Committee has agreed to appoint an eight-member committee (four Republicans and four Democrats) to investigate the charges against Rangle which, according to the Christian Science Monitor:

"range from misuse of rent-controlled apartments in New York City and failure to disclose income from a villa in the Dominican Republic to reports that he exchanged official favors in exchange for a $1 million gift to the Charles Rangel Center at City College of New York."

In addition, Jonathan Capehart, writing in the Washington Post, reminds us that Rangle had forgotten to report

"not one but two checking accounts -- CHECKING -- with up to $500,000 in them. How that slips the mind of the man who at the time was the powerful chief of the tax-writing committee is beyond me."

None of that, by the way, was enough for Nancy Pelosi, et. al. to remove Rangle from his position as Chairman of Ways and Means. What did the trick was: "when the House ethics panel reported that Rangel had violated House gift rules by accepting corporate funding for trips to the Caribbean."

Steal as much as you want. Use your position as much as you can to help your pals. But don't … DON'T… allow a corporation to pay for a trip.

There's a reason that Washington, DC has been described as "49 square miles surrounded by reality." Or, was that San Francisco in the '60s? It's very hard, sometimes, to tell them apart.

Members of Congress hate to investigate one another on the "there but for the grace of God go I" theory of having to consort with lobbyists and supporters on a fairly regular basis.

Larry Margasak, the dean of investigative reporters in Washington, wrote in his Associated Press piece,

"The timing of the announcement ensures that a public airing of Rangel's ethical woes will stretch into the fall campaign, and Republicans are certain to make it an issue as they try to capture majority control of the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had once promised to 'drain the swamp' of ethical misdeeds by lawmakers in arguing that Democrats should be in charge."

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at