The scandal list

THE SCANDAL LIST…. Marc Ambinder posted the latest in a series of end-of-the-decade polls yesterday, asking readers, “What’s the best (or worst) Republican political scandal of the decade?” Respondents were given five choices:

* The Abramoff investigation

* Sen. Larry Craig’s “wide stance”

* Gov. Mark Sanford’s Argentinian affair

* Rep. Mark Foley’s IMs to young male pages

* Other

The top-four choices rotated randomly. As of this morning, the Abramoff scandal was well ahead of the pack.

And while the Abramoff, Craig, Sanford, and Foley matters were clearly significant Republican scandals — three of the four relate to sex, which is always an attention-grabber — Ambinder’s list doesn’t include any of Tom DeLay’s scandals, the still-shocking Duke Cunningham scandal, the corruption of nearly all of the Alaska Republican Party’s establishment, the phone-jamming scandal that may have helped Republicans steal a Senate race in New Hampshire, other Republicans caught up in sex scandals (John Ensign, David Vitter, Tim Hutchinson), or any of the many, many Bush/Cheney scandals.

That’s a shame, because if we’re really going to consider the biggest “Republican political scandals of the decade,” we shouldn’t overlook the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, which in fairness, probably deserves its own end-of-the-decade poll.

Jamison Foser noted, “Not mentioned [on Ambinder’s list]? The Bush administration lying its way into a war of choice, listening in on the phone conversations of Americans, torture, Abu Ghraib, putting an unqualified crony in charge of FEMA, the US Attorneys firing, outing a CIA operative to get back at her husband, etc.”

Those are all key Bush-era scandals, but as long as we’re listing some of the highlights (or lowlights, as the case may be), I’d also mention the response to Hurricane Katrina, Scooter Libby and his get-out-of-jail-free card, the no-bid Halliburton contracts, the cost estimates of Medicare Part D deliberately hidden from Congress, the pundits paid to toe the administration’s line in the media without disclosure, the fake-news segments the administration created to run on local news outlets without disclosure, the suppression of scientific data the White House found politically inconvenient, the misuse of “faith-based” grants to help Republican congressional candidates, Karl Rove’s campaign “briefings” to federal offices in violation of the Hatch Act, the odd special access the White House gave to Gannon/Guckert, and plenty more that I’m probably forgetting.

All from the administration that vowed to return “honor and dignity” to the executive branch.

How can we look back at this godforsaken decade, ask about Republican scandals, and overlook these gems?