The gift that keeps on giving

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING…. Back in August, Jon Stewart did a segment on South Carolina, kicked off by a report about a South Carolinian who loved his horse just a little too much (twice). Stewart said, “We here at the show can’t help but notice that South Carolina has taken its rightful place amongst the states that make our lives here at the show easy.” From there, he pointed to provocative scandals surrounding Mark Sanford and a state GOP official who compared a gorilla to First Lady Michelle Obama.

That was before Joe Wilson became a national embarrassment/right-wing hero and two South Carolina County Republican Party chairmen praised Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in a newspaper editorial as being like a Jew who is “taking care of the pennies.”

This week, a deputy assistant South Carolina attorney general, who also happens to be a right-wing Republican, was caught on his lunch break with a stripper, sex toys, and Viagra in his sport utility vehicle.

Roland Corning, 66, a former state legislator, was in a secluded part of a downtown cemetery when an officer spotted him Monday, according to a police report obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

As the officer approached, Corning sped off, then pulled over a few blocks away. He and the 18-year-old woman with him, an employee of the Platinum Plus Gentleman’s Club, gave conflicting stories about what they were doing in the cemetery, Officer Michael Wines wrote in his report, though he did not elaborate.

Corning gave Wines a badge showing he worked for the state Attorney General’s Office. Wines, whose wife also works there, called her to make sure Corning was telling the truth.

When asked about the Viagra pill and sex toys, Corning told the officer they were always in his S.U.V. “just in case.”

He was promptly fired. State Attorney General Henry McMaster said such a trip to the cemetery “would not be appropriate, at any time, for an assistant attorney general.”

Josh Marshall added, “In happier days, Corning was an ardent pro-life politician best known for introducing a law in the South Carolina legislature that would have made the subdermal contraceptive device Norplant mandatory for women on welfare. Even then though he was no stranger to controversy. In 1994, during a floor debate with pro-choice state Rep. June Shissias, Corning asked Shissias whether she herself had ever had an abortion. Later he admitted the remark was ‘probably insensitive’ but said he was ‘sick and tired of the women representatives in this body acting like, just because we’re men and male, we don’t know anything about women.'”

I still think South Carolina hasn’t quite caught up with Florida — where I was born and raised — in the Most Ridiculous State contest, but it’s getting there.