SLEAZE….Movement conservative veteran Quin Hillyer has a very good piece in the New Republic today about the corruption and sleaze that’s become endemic in the upper reaches of the Republican party. I already knew about the ethics complaints against Tom DeLay and the now routine practice of holding House votes open for hours, but I didn’t know about all this:

Back [in 1995], House Republicans loudly trumpeted their strict new near-ban on lobbyists’ gifts to representatives and staffers; in 2003, they gutted the gift ban by raising the gift-value limit by about tenfold. Back then, they put stricter limits on the types of free junkets available to members and staff; in 2003, they exempted “charitable” junkets from those limits. Back then, they boasted about opening the legislative process to public scrutiny by making all committee hearings (unless classified for security reasons) open to the public; now, they write most of the significant parts of their bills behind the closed doors of House-Senate conferences.

….Republicans also changed the rule governing how ethics investigations can start in the first place. The former rule was that if the ethics committee remained in a 50-50 partisan deadlock for 45 days about whether to launch an investigation, an inquiry would begin. That way, the minority at least earned the right to be heard. This month, the GOP conference changed that rule to require that a majority of the committee must agree before the panel can start an investigation. The upshot? A determined majority party can now protect any one of its members from internal House investigation, no matter how reasonable the minority’s suspicions.

Amazing. It took Democrats 40 years to start losing losing their soul to corruption. Republicans have left them in the dust in a mere decade.