As regular readers of this column may be aware, I am not a chief strategist for the state Republican party. But if I were Don Benton—and gosh, right about now I'd love to be—I'd be running, not walking, to find someone to run this fall against our currently unopposed state attorney general, Christine Gregoire.
You may have heard. This hasn't been a very good month for Gregoire and her staff. Not all the screw-ups—those happened earlier. We don't know about the ones this month. But the bad publicity is more recent. And rarely has a set of issues so nicely illustrated the Republican dictum that big government is bad, evil, and the resolute enemy of all God-fearing, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens.
The inevitable side note: Republicans don't actually oppose big, intrusive government when it comes to military pork, social engineering, or making your buddies rich. But let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that a meaningful difference actually exists between the two parties.
Bickering by two of Gregoire's lawyers in the state Office of the Attorney General caused them to miss a key deadline on which an appeal was due on the largest jury award ever lodged against the state ($17.8 million).
Can't you see Gregoire's elephantine opponent now? That's $17.8 million of your tax dollars, ladies and gentlemen, pissed away by an uncaring, incompetent donkey and her staff. This is arrogant big government at its worst, unaccountable and not needing to care about what happens to the money it stole from you. It can always get more. To make matters worse, lawyers for the plaintiffs had offered to settle before the trial for half the amount of the eventual award. The state's lead attorney on the case, Loretta Lamb, refused.
Then there's the case itself. It involved three developmentally disabled men who were sexually and physically abused in a state-licensed home in Bremerton. More big bad government, not noticing or caring about the signs of abuse. It sounds a lot like Lyle Quasim's boys over at DSHS. Actually, Quasim, rather than be fired, got a nice cushy retirement a few months ago, replete with pats on the back from Gary Locke—and don't trip over Linda David's wheelchair on your way to Hawaii.
All salute, comrades!
But back to Christine. Gregoire and her staff have specialized in helping the state evade legal responsibility by capitalizing on their opponents' procedural mistakes. Republican lawyers, of course, do the same thing. But isn't this just more evidence of liberalism gone astray? Our once-proud country gone down the tubes, led by elected officials who won't take responsibility for their own mistakes? (Hmmm . . . sounds almost like a president we've known.)
Moreover, apparently this wasn't the first time Gregoire's lawyers missed a key deadline. Twenty months ago, an appeal of a $500,000 judgment arrived five days late. Once the lawyer involved realized he'd missed the deadline, he rushed to get the document to court—by popping it in the mail. When he applied later to have the case reinstated, the judge laughed. Right on paper. "Ha, ha, ha."
Then there's Gregoire's ultimate triumph, her victory—with the assistance, of course, of several dozen other state attorneys general—over Big Tobacco. But how much of a victory was it? Tobacco settled because they calculated, correctly, that it would save them billions of dollars in future liability. And you will note that if Gregoire hadn't "won," Big Tobacco would have actually had to pay injured parties or their estates, smokers who were addicted as kids and then hooked into painful, ugly, cancerous death.
Instead, our glorious triumph—all salute, comrades—accrues money to the state, which in turn socks it away in special funds and uses it for ridiculous pet projects of legislators. Government is evil, I tell you!
Another heretical side note: Many government programs do not involve lawyers and actually do good things for people who need the assistance. These are generally the programs that are the last to be funded and the first to be cut, right after the $800,000 study on whether toilet paper should be dispensed from over or under the roll.
The problem, of course, with having a Republican replace Gregoire is that we'd be likely to get some death penalty-loving zealot—would somebody please explain to me why opponents of big government don't mind when the state kills people?—who is tough on criminals, so long as they don't occupy corporate board rooms.
Come to think of it, that's exactly the dilemma we face in the governor's race, too, where John "Three Strikes" Carlson aches to replace the complacent, bloated daddy in the governor's mansion with the Evergreen State's Fourth Reich.
It's enough to make people not vote. Which, curiously enough, is what the majority of eligible voters do, or don't do, in most elections. My favorite electoral reform comes from that big government- hating crusader, Ralph Nader, who wants "None of the Above" placed on the ballot. If NOTA wins in any given election, we replace the rejected candidates with new ones until someone wins. If nobody ever wins, the office lies vacant. Sounds eminently sensible to me. And a great way to replace Christine Gregoire.