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Pity the Fool 

But be not fooled

I wish I knew how to quit you, Larry Craig!

Uh, what I mean is, I don't think we should turn our backs on Larry just yet.

Uh, that didn't come out right either. What I mean is, when it comes to the Craig affair, I feel we need to get something straightened out between us.

Dammit! Sorry about all the innuendo. Seems like no matter what I set out to write, those sneaky double Freudian entendre slips just keep coming and coming. What I'm trying to say here has nothing to do with the sex part of it, OK? In fact, I was ready to let the whole thing drop after Larry resigned, particularly since I had started to feel ... now don't you laugh ... sorry for him. It's hard to explain, but when fair-weather weasels like Mitt Romney turn on a fella and eat his heart out before the sap knows what hit him ... why, I figure it's time for the decent people to show a little sympathy. So yes, I feel sorry for Larry Craig, and I'm not ashamed to say so. And I'd love to see Romney catch a festering dose of "what goes around, comes around."

But then the local press and local pols and local pundits started telling us what a sad day it is for Idaho since Craig has had such an illustrious career doing all these wonderful, wonderful things for the people of Idaho—comparing him to Frank Church and William Borah and all—and I thought Hey, let's just hold on here a minute! Surely they're not talking about the same Larry Craig I've been watching for 25 years. The Larry Craig who did everything within his considerable power to sell out the West to the heftiest campaign contributors. The Larry Craig who is regarded in my circle as one of the most subservient, accommodating panderers to ever ooze out of Idaho. The Larry Craig who never met a corporate interest he couldn't pimp for.

So I thought we'd review some of the highlights of Larry's career ... if the term "highlights" even applies here. Yes, he's gone now and with any luck, we'll never have him to kick around anymore. But it's important that future generations of Idaho school kids don't get Larry Craig confused with anything that might remotely be labeled "illustrious." What follows is just a sampling of the sort of "up yours" infamy Craig has been pulling over the years.

• In the matter of how best to revive the Northwest's salmon runs, who can forget Craig's 2005 maneuver to defund the facility responsible for counting in-bound fish on the Columbia River. His back door rider was thrown out in court, but his intent was obviously in line with the principle ("The less people know, the more we like it") which has guided so many natural resource-based industries in these dark Bush Times. It illustrates well not only Craig's disdain for any data that doesn't serve his masters' interests, but also his general scorn for the entire effort to protect or invigorate what little those masters haven't yet destroyed.

• In the same vein, in 2006, Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas, a Republican, introduced legislation that would have extended protection to the headwaters of the Snake River. Thomas has since died, but both current Wyoming senators supported the bill. Yet as a powerful member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Craig saw to it that no action was taken on the measure, effectively snuffing the protection.

• The General Mining Act of 1872 has been the miners' manual since before Custer met his Waterloo at the Little Big Horn, yet Craig has consistently fought any meaningful attempt to reform it. Where once the act encouraged gnarly old prospectors to lead their burros forth and dig up something valuable, it now allows huge mining operations, often from other countries, to pick public lands clean with virtually no payback to the owners—being us—and minimal liability for the mess they make. Need I add that Craig has long been a major recipient of contributions from these same operations?

• In 1995, then Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit tried to bring the grazing rental on public lands up to the same levels that private land owners enjoy, which stood at least 80 percent above what the state and federal governments were getting. In Idaho alone, the move would have added millions to the public school coffers. Guess who stomped the reform into oblivion.

• Always and ever sensitive to the Republican reality that the GOP cannot live by the corporate voting bloc alone, early in his congressional career, Craig attached himself like a burr to the blood-stained hide of the National Rifle Association. He even introduced legislation making gun manufacturers immune from liability for any havoc their product creates, thereby endearing himself to that subspecies known only for their lust for "lock and load." Craig would maintain, I suppose, that his association with the NRA is evidence that he takes the Constitution deadly seriously. But with his craven servility to Bush's Patriot Act and everything else that is anathema to civil libertarians, it would seem Craig's entire understanding of the Constitution goes no further than a juvenile misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. Face it, Craig's the sort of politician who cruises for the lowest common denominator and pretends he's one of them.

There's much, much more. But the preceding should give an idea of why Idaho —the U.S. of A., the planet Earth, probably even the Milky Way, if the whole truth were known—will be better off without him. I think it's safe to assume there will never be a "Larry Craig Middle School" or a "Craig Center for the Performing Arts," let alone a "Larry Craig Wilderness" or a "Mount Craig." Nor should there be. At every step of his career, Larry Craig has busied himself at undermining things of our world that should last ... salmon, honor, freedom, forests, integrity, rivers ... you name it. Instead, he has spent his life as nothing more than a facilitator for the smashers and grabbers, for those who see no value in anything but the easiest buck they can make. In spite of what his old cronies say, nothing Craig accomplished should last. Everything Craig accomplished should be undone. His legacy can only be applauded for the complete dismantling of it. Too bad, Larry. I feel for ya', but your old Senate buddies are right about one thing. You are a disgrace.

And as to the brief mention you deserve in future Idaho history books, I have a suggestion: "There must be a zillion ways to be a whore, and the least harmful of all have anything to do with sex."

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