I've long suspected a wide-ranging Republican party conspiracy to create content ready-made for Talking Points Memo. And as Republican conspiracies go, it's one I can't say I have too big a problem with. But I think I've found another example of the cabal at work.
To paraphrase the late Richard M. Nixon, we don't have Duke Cunningham to kick around any more. But perhaps the conspirators are cueing up a replacement.
Francine Busby is the main Democrat running to replace the seat left vacant by Duke's resignation. It's CA-50, for those of you keeping score. It's an open primary on April 11th. The top Dem and GOPer go to a run-off, unless one candidate gets over 50%, a distinctly unlikely outcome.
Anyway, one of the main Republicans is former GOP Congressman Brian Bilbray.
Since leaving Congress, Brian Bilbray has worked as a lobbyist for, among other clients, a controversial Indian tribe with a casino. Actually, let me amend that slightly. More recently, he's been spending his time fighting with the state of California over whether he has to identify his profession as that of "lobbyist" on election materials. Bilbray prefers to style himself "consultant".
In any case, given the recent unpleasantness in the 50th district, Busby is pretty keen to make the election about ethics and political corruption. (It's a fairly Republican district.) And if Brian Bilbray makes it into the run-off against her, that may not be that hard.
You see, Bilbray was a pretty big pal of our friend Jack Abramoff. Back in the mid-1990s he even went on one of Jack's all-expense-paid junkets to the Marianas islands to watch first hand the alchemic magic of laborers from across the Far East working in sweatshops producing "Made in the USA" label clothing.
A lot of Republicans went to the Marianas back in the glory days; and even a few Dems. But Bilbray became one of the most outspoken proponents of the campaign to keep US labor laws off the island. Somehow I suspect there's more beneath the surface on this one.