Is it just me, or is there something odd about the tone of this report in The Hill about how Tom DeLay?s staff can all expect to find new jobs without much trouble?

?DeLay was widely regarded as highly effective at promoting the Republican agenda,? The Hill?s Jeffrey Young tells us. ?His staff?s role in that success did not go unnoticed.? Then we get prominent Republicans, including RNC chair Ken Mehlman, singing the praises of the DeLay team. Two of those singled out for special credit are chief of staff Brett Loper and communications director Kevin Madden.

Let?s take a step back here. DeLay and two former staff members have been indicted on charges of using illegal corporate contributions in a scheme that was designed to increase the Republican majority in Washington. It?s at least plausible ? and that?s putting it generously ? that senior staff in the Majority Leader?s office had some inkling of what was going on.

To be clear, I have no evidence whatsoever that Loper and Madden ? or any other DeLay staffer outside of the two who have already been indicted ? did anything illegal or even unethical. But the possibility is hardly far-fetched. It?s certainly believable enough that you?d expect reporters assessing the job prospects of top DeLay staffers to at least raise the issue.

But The Hill isn?t interested. To them, DeLay?s top aides are just a bunch of honest hacks unfortunate enough to have signed on with a boss who stepped over the line. And remember, GOP bigwigs say these guys are ?talented people?. They deserve to succeed.

With reporting like this, it?s not hard to see how the GOP thought it could get away this stuff in the first place.

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