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EDITORIAL The Envelope, Please… 0 ur nation has been blessed with leaders whose names are associated with the great crises they brought to resolution. Lincoln used his spirit and intellect to see the nation through the Civil War. FDR imposed his will on the economic forces that held the nation in the grip of a Great Depression. Ronald Reagan relied on his belief in the principle of freedom to bring down the Berlin Wall. Each of these men envisioned solutions not evident to their contemporaries. In 1994, that vision was lacking in a House of Representatives controlled by Democrats who had grown corrupt after four decades in power. Appalled by the fact that Democratic Speaker Jim Wright used his position of power to earn several thousand dollars selling copies of his autobiography to supporters, a cabal of Republicans who were clear of mind and pure of heart seized power and led the Congress out of its ethical wasteland. Today, the sole surviving leader of the great ethical crusade of 1994 is Majority Leader Tom DeLay. He is the logical first recipient for our ethics in government reward named in his honor: The Tommy. Tom DeLay is an ethical exemplar because he has stood before the House Ethics Committee more times than any other un-incarcerated member of Congress. On four occasions since 1998, when he was first investigated by the Ethics Committee, he has withstood the close scrutiny of his House colleagues. Never in the history of the House has a member endured four reprimands by the Ethics Committee and remained in a leadership position. As Majority Leader DeLay himself said when his lawyers settled a racketeering lawsuit filed against him in 1999, he is “the most investigated man in the history of this body.” Tom DeLay is an ethical exemplar because, in the words of his former press secretary Stuart Roy, he can accept the largesse of the corporate lobby, yet not be influenced by them. “He socialized and played golf with them,” Roy said, after a Kansas energy company wrote a $25,000 check to a foundation DeLay controlled so that its executives and lobbyists could play golf with him. Roy said the money in no way influenced the special legislative measure DeLay promoted for the company. Listening to Stuart, those of us covering DeLay, while a series of potential scandals unfolded last year in Washington, began to understand that the Leader is possessed of an unusual abil ity to divorce personal gifts from political favoritism. It is, one reporter said after Stuart explained it, like the ancient Vedic concept of “enlightened detachment.” There is nothing wrong with the accumulation of great wealthas long as you don’t get attached to it. So it was that DeLay could accept $70,000 from Jack Abramofffor a golfing trip to England and Scotland. And $30,000 for a New Year’s holiday in American Saipan. And another $30,000 for his political action committee in Texas. With a detachment other members of Congress don’t understand, DeLay accepted the money with the clear understanding that nothing was expected in return. \(With the same detachment, he accepted a $107,000 three-day golfing discovered that the money Abramoff gave him was stolen from six American Indian tribes, DeLay’s response was immediate and unequivocal: he publicly denounced Abramoff, his close friend and golfing companion, at a press conference in the Majority Leader’s Capitol dining roomtwice, just in case some reporters didn’t hear him the first time. For these reasons, and many more, we are proud to recognize Tom DeLay as the man who cut the Gordian knot of congressional ethics. THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 97, NO. 6 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger Executive Editor Jake Bernstein Editor Barbara Belejack Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Circulation Manager Lara George Art Direction Buds Design Kitchen Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editors Roxanne Bogucka, Laurie Baker Webmaster Adrian Ouesada Editorial Interns Kris Bronstad, Megan Giller, Star Silva, Forrest Wilder Lege Interns Elayne Mae Esterline, Monica Gutierrez, Chris Mahon, Lauren Reinlie, Jonathan York Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter, Penny Van Horn Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid Texas Democracy Foundation Board Lou Dubose, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Curbs, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, In Memoriam Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olafson, 1931-1995 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040copyrighted 2005, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues dation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, E-mail [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page www.texasobserver.org . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer’s League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. APRIL 1, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3 A.