The Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington released its list of “America’s Worst Governors” this week, and as with most things CREW does, it is well-researched, informative, and depressing. Also just a teeny bit biased.
Mostly it is depressing. That so many of the leaders of our states engage in such egregiously unethical conduct–and CREW’s list is far from complete—shows how deeply corrupt the nation’s political culture remains, and what a herculean job lies ahead if we ever hope to change it. It is also depressing when one reflects on how frequently our presidents are recruited from the ranks of governors.
The bias is annoying, but characteristic. CREW does excellent work, but it often betrays a leftward tilt, and this list displays it vividly. There are only two Democratic governors on the list of eleven, and those two, Gov. Richardson of New Mexico and Gov. Patersen of New York, are so undeniable bad apples that CREW couldn’t omit them and maintain any credibility at all. Still, a more neutral group might have found good cause to include Democrats like Pennsylvania’s Ed Rendell, who seems to be in the pocket of gambling interests (as well as to have some questionable gambling benefits in his pocket), or West Virginia’s conflict of interest-clueless Joe Manchin, who accepted a chartered jet ride from Florida to his state after the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion—from Massey Energy, the very company that might be responsible for the disaster. Of course, the list is entitled “The Worst Governors,” not “The Most Unethical Governors,”and CREW obviously thinks the “wrong” party affiliation counts against the Republicans. To be fair to CREW, we should remember that three Democratic governors who might have made the list—- Blagojevich of Illinois, Spitzer of New York, and Corzine of New Jersey, left office before they could be included, thanks to impeachment, resignation and electoral defeat, respectively.
Never mind: it is still an informative list. But soooo depressing.