My favorite Tom DeLay story

Tom DeLay, former dancer. He was always the cut-up! (Photo: Travis County Police Department.)

In view of Congressman DeLay’s appeal this week to the right-wing, politicized court that will ultimately spring him from his jury conviction and three year prison sentence, I reprize the following tribute to The Hammer.

Tom DeLay yesterday was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to violate Texas campaign spending laws and 10 years probation for money laundering by a trial court in Travis County, Texas. Speaking on his own behalf before the sentence, DeLay explained he could not express remorse (evidently his lawyer told him that would be necessary to cut his sentence down), because “‘I never intended to break the law — I have always played by the rules,’  … ‘I cannot be remorseful for something I didn’t think I did.'” We asked a long-time follower of the career of Mr. Delay to comment on this event. This is what he said:

I wish I could have been there to see the twinkle in his eyes when he said that. Tom (I call him Tom since I don’t know his inmate number yet) was always the fun-loving cut-up, and I can just imagine how the judge had to suppress a smile before sentencing him.

There are so many stories to remember about this carefree mirth-maker, a man known for making life just a little bit better for those around him. Tom’s happy-go-lucky style got its start long before he had a personal encounter with the Creator of the Universe who told him to stop drinking and womanizing. [Editor’s Note: The great I AM actually uses the word “womanizer” even today, because at heart He is a Texan.]

Before that, Tom was known to hoist a few and chase a few skirts. Even after he was married. Tom later called himself in those days “a real jerk,” but he was being much too hard on himself. He was a Republican member of the Texas House–the first Republican from his district–and in the vanguard of that great movement of selfishness and corruption that would soon catch on in Texas and then sweep the country. How could you not indulge yourself every once and again? Anyway, women and booze would just throw themselves on him.

Tom’s carefree days go back to his days killing vermin, when he had the name the “Exterminator.” People don’t know this, but he was known as the “Exterminator” before he was known as the “Hammer.” Tom, the “Exterminator,” didn’t actually kill vermin, he’s too good-hearted for that. He just had a company that sold the carcinogen Mirex. Tom was always bitter about the international agreement to ban Mirex on the ground that it was one of the “dirty dozen” of persistent organic pollutants. He wasn’t bitter because the decision cost him money (if you know Tom you know he can make money bloom in the driest of deserts), it was because as a major in biology it offended him that people thought he would endanger animals. Hell, he’d dump that crap right in a river so it wouldn’t get into the ecosystem, that’s how animal-friendly he is.

But I lost the thread of this tribute. When he was the “Exterminator,” DeLay used to have fun with the IRS. He’d make those guys go to all sorts of trouble just to get his income and payroll taxes. How he must have howled with delight at each of the three tax liens–they just showed his party nature. (Peter Perl, “Absolute Truth,” Washington Post Magazine, p W12 (May 13, 2001).)

And, oh, people make too much of the litigation his partner brought against him. In the pesticide business you have to have thick skin, otherwise … well, you know, lymphoma, leukemia, nervous system disorders, cancer, acne. Anyway, litigation in that business is just like saying, Howdy! which we Texans say all the time. And the fact that he seems to have committed perjury either in the deposition or in his Congressional disclosure forms, well, I ask you, who hasn’t? We all know Clinton did. That’s why Tom was all fer impeachin’ him.

I suppose you’ve already heard the heart-warming story about how he worked hard for four years in the Texas House which qualified him to be a United States Representative in 1984. The fun was just starting. But also, I’m afraid to tell you, the meanies were out to get him. Sure, he wasn’t particularly bright, so no one knew who the hell he was, but those libruls, you know who I mean, they connive and plot, no matter who you are as long as you believe in American values like me-first and where’s-the-trough and what’s-in-it-for me.

So at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans, before the Republicans had wised up and made sure that un-American people weren’t allowed in, he tried to thoughtfully answer a question about why he didn’t serve in Vietnam. A lot of libruls were making a big deal out of the fact that Vice President nominee Dan Quayle had used his family connections in Indiana to get a position in the National Guard so he wouldn’t have to go. (I know I shouldn’t make this about me, but just hear me out. What do libruls think a person works hard to get family connections for if he’s not allowed to use them? That’s what I don’t get about you libruls. Maybe if Lenin had some family connections, we’ d still have a Tzar and nobody would have had to go to Vietnam. Did you ever think of that?) Well, you probably know that Tom got a high lottery number in 1969. (You kids out there might not know that this country once held a raffles based on your birthday. If you got a high number, you won an all expense paid trip to Vietnam. Sometimes, however, it was only one way.) But he was able to get a student deferment even though the government was supposed to have cracked down on those by then. Tom jist used his God-given talents to get one and keep it, even though he was suspended from Baylor for his typical hijinks, drinking too much I think it was. Quick thinking got him into the University of Houston before anyone did anything to revoke the deferment. (If you have a TV, you all know by now how quick on his feet that guy is.) The Houston Press asked him about his Vietnam service at the Convention. This is how they reported it (quoted in Slate):

“He and Quayle, DeLay explained to the assembled media in New Orleans, were victims of an unusual phenomenon back in the days of the undeclared Southeast Asian war. So many minority youths had volunteered for the well-paying military positions to escape poverty and the ghetto that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself. Satisfied with the pronouncement, which dumbfounded more than a few of his listeners who had lived the sixties, DeLay marched off to the convention.”

And the librul media never let him forget this. Even though the whole thing is a bunch of … (well I won’t say it ’cause some of you all might not be Texans). A whole bunch of patriots had better things to do than live off the government in the tropics in those days. Take Newt Gingrich or George W. Bush or Dick Cheney to name just a few real Americans.

What is worse, Tom was trying to have a meaningful discussion about the abuses of affirmative action quotas. But the libruls are always try to change the subject whenever there’s a blatant case of discrimination against a Southern White Male. Thankfully during his Washington career Tom was able to get more than enough for himself and that helps even the balance for all of us a little.

When he was in Washington, Tom got Jesus. A lot of us were surprised because we didn’t think God ever showed His Face in Washington. Plus we didn’t know that Jesus was against drinking and chasing skirt. Tom says that when he first went to Washington he was drinking “eight, ten, twelve martinis a night at receptions and fundraisers.” (See Perl above.) But he got Jesus and changed, as he explains:

“The transforming moment for me came one day during the meeting [a weekly Bible study led by Tom Barrett for House members], when I quietly prayed a prayer of commitment to Jesus Christ. No one else was involved. In fact, no one else in the room even knew until later. I did it quietly, and yet with the greatest sincerity of my life.”

I’m sure Tom told the strippers and bartenders right away, because Tom is not the kind of guy who let’s his friends out in the cold. He continues:

“The truth is that in 1985 I had a genuine born-again experience. Jesus Christ took up residence in my life, healed my marriage, changed my passions, and gave me a new map for understanding the world.”

Fortunately for Tom, two other pious Christians were around to show him where that map led: first Reagan then Gingrich. Power, money, self-first, that’s what God made us all for. (Plus drinking and cheating in moderation.) But it was a long haul and much hard work. In fact, I heard a Sundie School teacher compare Tom’s progress in getting to the top with the Christian guy in Paul Bunyan’s story about the Pilgrims. Tom got some good training when he was Minority Whip under Gingrich and Dick Armey. In the 90s these guys acted just like the Trinity, except Tom didn’t think the other two were good Christians like hisself.

The real partnership that shot Tom to the top was with that man of God Jack Abramoff. I’m not exactly sure which church Abramoff belonged to. It’s probably one that we don’t have around here in Texas, like Lutherans or sumpin’ like that. Anyway Jack taught Tom all about the world of lobbyists. For men of God like Tom and Jack, lobbying firms are like the seminaries to the church of Republican leadership. And Tom did his part to make sure that the seminaries remained strict Christian-like. Just a little story here, you’ll get a chuckle: A corporate lobbyist came into Tom’s office in April 1994.

“The Texas congressman was standing at his desk that afternoon, examining a document that listed the amounts and percentages of money that the 400 largest political action committees had contributed to Republicans and Democrats over the last two years. Those who gave heavily to the GOP were labeled ‘Friendly,’ the others ‘Unfriendly.’

“‘See, you’re in the book,’ DeLay said to his visitor, leafing through the list. At first the lobbyist was not sure where his group stood, but DeLay helped clear up his confusion. By the time the lobbyist left the congressman’s office, he knew that to be a friend of the Republican leadership his group would have to give the party a lot more money.[DeLay’s] motto is an unabashedly blunt interpretation of the dictums of [former House] Speaker Newt Gingrich: ‘If you want to play in our revolution, you have to live by our rules.'” (“Speaker and His Directors Make the Cash Flow Right,” Washington Post, November 27, 1995.)

In later life, DeLay devoted himself to the Arts.

Anyway the Lord of Hosts and Jack Abramoff helped Tom create one of the kick-assingest Congresses ever. But I don’t want to bore you with all that. You’ll probably hear about all his hijinks in Congress here and there as we all celebrate how Tom Delay has affected our lives. And let’s not forget the joy he brought us with dance. I have to admit that I thought that guys who danced were all fruity and lived in New York and listened to show tunes. (I think I heard one of ’em once. I was driving on the highway by Austin and for some reason some NPR channel came on. Anyway I shut if off purdy quick.) When I saw Tom on TV dancing up a storm, though, I found it kinda interesting. Not like a monster truck rally, but it sure beat NPR.

Lemme just tell you a little story that sorta sums up the kinda man Tom DeLay was. It’s about this little island we own somewhere called the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Doesn’t matter; I didn’t know about it either till Tom told me about it. It seems they can mark the clothes they make with “Made in the USA” and import it here without any duties or quotas. But best yet, they don’t have to pay minimum wage or comply with any of our labor laws! Ain’t that a hoot! And they get their workers from some of ’em commie countries. These are girls that are more than happy to come there just for the chance of a good job. This is how Wendy Doromol, a teacher there, explains how good they had it:

“The barbed wire around the factories face inward so that the mostly women couldn’t get out. They had quotas that were impossible for these people to reach and if they didn’t reach them, they’d have to stay until they finished the quota and they wouldn’t be paid for that work. They were hot, the barracks were horrible. A lot of the females were told you work during the day in the garment factory and then at night you can go and work in a club and they’d force them into prostitution at night. … [I]f some female got pregnant, they either had to go back to China to give birth or have a forced abortion.”

This island was doing its part not to create even bigger illegal immigration problems by letting them have children there. I wish some of our so-called “mainland” politicians had so much common sense. Anyhow, the company would go to great length to give these girls (and sometimes guys) a break. They would go to China and Bangladesh and tell them they could come to the US. And only charge them $5,000 for it. And that included airfare to wherever this island is. Here’s one guy telling how they got him out of Bangladesh and to the Land of the Free:

Nashir Jahidi is one of the workers Wendy Doromol befriended. He came to Saipan, one of the Northern Mariana Islands from Bangladesh by way of the Philippines. He says when he got on the plane, he thought he was going to America.

Mr. NASHIR JAHIDI (Ex-Worker): And not only me, there was some people that recruiter exactly told him that he can be going to Los Angeles by train from Saipan. So when I hear that the plane, you know, the host or somebody’s saying they were about to land in Saipan and I when I looked out the window and I saw it’s like blue water everywhere and small island and I was like, how?

YDSTIE: So you thought that you were going to be going to California or somewhere on the U.S. mainland?

Mr. JAHIDI: Not only me, most of the worker[s]. They were surprised when they see the United States flag and the local island flag and we used the U.S. dollar, we used the U.S. stamp and everything, then people understand that this is only a small island. There is no way that you have the opportunity like what’s in the United States.

You’re probably saying to yourself right now, “This all seems good. Why would a US Congressman have to get involved?” Well, it seems there was a movement afoot to have the Interior Department investigate worker abuses. Fortunately Abramoff had been paid $6.7 million from 1995 to 2001 by this island. This allowed him to send hundreds of congressional aides and Congressmen to this tropical island to see for themselves that nothing was amiss. Their investigations were so thorough that many personally investigated whether local establishments were using the correct amount of Curaçao in their Mai Tais. They also tried out the snorkeling equipment and golf clubs to make sure tourists wouldn’t be injured when they came there.

Finally Tom and his lovely wife and daughter and several aides came on New Years 1997. Most politicians are not dedicated enough to give up their holidays to have an all expense paid trip to a tropical Pacific Island with beachfront property. But it was that kind of ethic that made libruls despise him. Even ABC praised his work there in this report:

After touring one garment plant, DeLay praised Saipan at the New Year’s Eve party attended by top factory owners.

“You represent everything that is good about what we are trying to do in America,” DeLay said at the time to his audience, which included Saipan officials and factory owners.

Later, according to a recording made by a human rights investigator posing as a potential customer, one of the prominent factory owners said that DeLay had promised to stop the reform laws.

“Do you know what Tom told me?” Willie Tan [head of the island’s biggest garment firm] said. “He said, ‘Willie, if they elect me majority whip, I make the schedule of the Congress, and I’m not going to put it on the schedule.’ So Tom told me, ‘Forget it, Willie. No chance.’ “

And so it was. DeLay made sure the House never considered any legislation dealing with labor abuses in the Marianas, even though one bill had 228 co-sponsors. And it never took up legislation unanimously passed in the Senate setting minimal regulations of labor there. You can’t buy men of their words like that now-a-days. Tom was one in a million.

I’m hoping Tom gets to see his good friend Jack before he has to go the big house. Maybe Jack can get him set up in some beachfront cell.

Who am I trying to kid! You know Tom isn’t going to jail. This is Texas. We don’t let reglar ‘Mericans, God-fearing at that, go to no prison. We have Republican appellate judges. We didn’t turn this state blood red to allow some renegade Travis County judge to apply the law. Our appellate judges take campaign contributions from law firms. And all the firms are Republican. Hell, outside of Travis County everyone here is a Republican. All them that can speak English, that is. Anyway our granpappies didn’t die at the Alamo to allow people like Tom to get railroaded for things like laundering money, whatever that is. No wonder Tom was in such a good mood during sentencing yesterday. I just wish I coulda been there.

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