Thursday, November 14, 2002

I would understand the outpouring of articles contending that Nancy Pelosi is a bad, out-of-the-mainstream choice for House Minority Leader if it were customary for leaders in the House to hug the center as much as humanly possible. But hello? Excuse me? In the next Congress, the House Majority Leader is going to be Tom Fricking DeLay.

So as you peruse list after list of the noncentrist positions (against the Iraq war resolution, against the Bush tax cut) Pelosi has taken, ask yourself why you’re not reading lists of truly out-of-touch, if not utterly extremist and nutty, positions taken by DeLay:

* In 1996, DeLay introduced a bill that would have made it illegal for states and municipalities to regulate "the pricing, terms, or conditions of service offerings by electric service providers" -- a bill praised by Kenneth Lay on Enron’s Web site (yep, the press release is still up).

* DeLay strongly supports drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

* DeLay, of course, vehemently opposes campaign finance reform (because it -- stop, you're killing me, Tom -- "prevent[s] average citizens from participating in political debates").

* In 2000, DeLay opposed a phased-in minimum-wage increase from $5.15 an hour to $6.15 ("I hate it").

* DeLay did not want Elián González reunited with his father.

* According to Time magazine, DeLay has asserted that day care, birth control and the teaching of evolution are the cause of Columbine-style youth violence. "Guns have little or nothing to do with juvenile violence," DeLay, a fervent opponent of gun control, has said.

* DeLay has insulted Jews, Muslims, practitioners of all other faiths, and atheists by saying, "Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world -- only Christianity."

* DeLay denounced Baylor University and Texas A&M University for, among other things, failing to teach creationism.

I'm sorry -- which one of these leaders did you say is out of the mainstream?

Update: D'oh -- Joe Conason's latest column in The New York Observer also makes this comparison. Well, it bears repeating.

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