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A new, ethical state government? My ass. 

Not when the new guv is already defending conflicts of interest

Sonny Perdue almost made it to swearing-in day before caving in on his holy vows to instill ethics into Georgia's cesspool of state politics.

You might not have noticed.

Rather, in the local daily newspaper of declining circulation, there have been geysers of gush over how Georgia pols, led by Perdue, are finally coming to Jesus and getting righteous.

Perdue says his minions are going to be "above reproach," and has appointed an "inspector general" to clean things up. Senators and representatives fall over themselves declaring ethics are really, really "necessary" and that Georgians really, really want state officials whose morals are just a tad purer than mafia loan sharks.

No one stopped to question the incredibly glaring fact that the very same people who are now hallelujah-born-again ethicists are the very rascals who for years have been selling their votes to lobbyists, hiring their kin for make-work state sinecures, setting up bogus companies to grab state contracts, voting for deals that enrich themselves and their cronies -- etcetera and etcetera.

The public is angry and aroused, and rightfully so. After all, citizens' pocketbooks are being looted to pay for corrupt government and state giveaways to political insiders. Politicians, with their unsurpassed survival instincts, must act like they're going to do something -- until the media again numbs the minds of citizens with intellectual Thorazine.

Thus, there will be a lot of window dressing and damn little substance.

Take, for example, the "inspector general." James Sehorn is a retired Air Force general, a genuine patriot and a former prisoner of war. But as I said: window dressing. Sehorn has met an inspector general or two during his military career. He has never been one. He has never been an investigator. He is not a lawyer. He won't have lawyers working for him. He doesn't know squat about the labyrinthine workings of state government. He does not have subpoena power.

Sehorn will be a toothless tiger whose job will be to spotlight some minor inefficiencies and peccadilloes so that his boss can trumpet that he's cleaning up the government. The good ol' boys -- with whom Perdue was long a fraternity brother -- are slapping their knees and hootin' in down-home jubilation at this one.

But Sehorn was just the warm-up act for the real smoke-and-mirrors show. The main event took the stage Jan. 6 when Perdue named retired banker James Lientz as Georgia's "chief operating officer."

Background: Perdue is in the bizarre position of being a Republican who was not supported by Big Bidness. Rather, in the brothel called Georgia politics, all of the corporate and lobbyist johns were lined up, cash in hand, in front of the door of the sure winner, Roy Barnes.

Then, The Big Oops happened.

Barnes came down with the political equivalent of a social disease (to push this metaphor, call it "flag clap"), and everyone ended up looking pretty stupid. Barnes, of course, was the sorriest looking of the lot. But Perdue found himself appearing very un-Bush-like without the usual GOP entourage of well-heeled executives, lobbyists and lawyers all helping him plot how to carve up the state for developers and the business elite. And that elite found itself without a governor it could call its very own (as in bought and paid for).

Enter Jim Lientz.

I hand it to Perdue for chutzpah. He named the ultra-pro-business/ultra-anti-little-people Lientz as "chief operating officer" and claimed, with a straight face, that this was a progressive move.

Reality: Lientz's ascension is a signal to the corporate leeches that the state is again up for sale.

Predictably, the daily press gave Georgians only the official propaganda. Republican Party shill and sometimes columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Jim Wooten went so far as to construct an entire ode of praise Jan. 7 that differed only in teensy, inconsequential details from the official Perdue press release on the new COO. A companion news story showed a total lack of skepticism or inquisitiveness.

Lientz's official resume is just absolutely stuffed with prestigious memberships and leadership roles. The Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Carter Center, Woodruff Arts Center. It's his long tenure as one of the state's most powerful bankers, however, that is key to the appointment. Lientz is uniquely qualified to officiate at the remarriage of government with Georgia's corporate thugs and moneyed powerbrokers.

First, there is no reason for a COO in state government. That job is what voters elected Perdue to do. And there are just herds and herds of underlings and bureaucrats to do all the piddling stuff.

So, the reason for hiring a COO is some other need. A need "The Boys" don't want you to know about.

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