POMBO-PALOOZA….The Wall Street Journal reports today on congressman Richard Pombo, “public enemy No. 1 for many environmental groups”:

In just a few short years, the 43-year-old has become a leader in Congress in rolling back environmental regulations ? at a time when like-minded Republican conservatives in the Senate and White House are in power. Apart from contemplating a selloff of national-park sites, Mr. Pombo has recently tried to overhaul the Endangered Species Act, privatize vast government lands in the West and open up protected coasts and wilderness to more drilling.

….Not surprisingly, Mr. Pombo has many defenders in business. During the 2004 Republican National Convention, the American Gas Association hosted a bash for him called the “Pombo-Palooza,” featuring a mechanical bull and country-and-western music. “The left wing is all hot and bothered over Pombo…due to his effectiveness and a lack of willingness to pander to liberal pet causes,” wrote Raymond Keating, chief economist of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, last year in an op-ed piece in Mr. Pombo’s California hometown paper, the Tracy Press.

Pombo also has some ethics issues stalking him, and on Friday former Republican congressman ? and friend of the environment ? Pete McCloskey announced that he is coming out of retirement to challenge Pombo in this year’s primary:

The tough-talking, 78-year-old ex-Marine said in a telephone interview that he decided to challenge Pombo in the June 6 GOP primary because of the congressman’s efforts to weaken environmental laws and connections to figures in a Washington corruption scandal.

“This is no Republican Party I recognize today,” McCloskey said.

Good for him. Nobody gives McCloskey any chance of winning, but at the very least maybe he can provoke a smidgen of soul searching among Republicans in Pombo’s district. Maybe.