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Monday, July 17, 2006

Gee, it's nice that Bill Stephens likes us

The Atlanta Daily Newspaper of Declining Circulation and Creative Loafing disagree on many things. But, occasionally we find common ground.

For example, when a politician is a glaring ethical canker, it's not unusual that media pundits reach the same conclusion.

I'm speaking, canker-wise, of Bill Stephens, a Republican secretary of state candidate who, as we pointed out in our endorsements two weeks ago, received the largest individual fines in the history of the Georgia Ethics Commission. It should be a no-brainer to retire Stephens from politics.

Well, Stephens sends out a missive to supporters last week trying to pre-empt an Atlanta Journal-Constitution endorsement of his GOP primary opponent, the well-qualified and quite ethical Karen Handel.

The hallmark of a scoundrel is that, when cornered, he'll start waving a Bible and wrap himself in the flag. Which is what Stephens did. He groused: "There was no way that the AJC Editorial Staff would support a conservative former Senate Majority Leader who authored the Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, co-sponsored the photo I.D. law and is endorsed by Georgia Right to Life."

And then Stephens turned his rather flaccid cannons on us, writing: "Let's not forget that the radical counter-culture tabloid Creative Loafing, a publication that consistently advocates liberal stances, also recently endorsed Fulton County Commissioner Handel while lambasting my unapologetically conservative record."

Oh, woe. I'm not too sure what "radical counter-culture" means three or so decades after the phrase was in vogue. We have, after all, endorsed many Republicans, including Sonny Perdue (in the 2002 GOP primary). And while true extremists such as Stephens think they can cause the masses to go brain-dead by intoning "liberal," it's a tactic that is increasingly impotent.

Moreover, note that among Stephens' claimed achievements, there is nothing that actually did anything to help Georgians. Gays weren't getting married, so his amendment was at best superfluous and at worst a giant waste of time and money. The photo ID law has run afoul of the courts, and was authored by a clearly racist colleague of Stephens'.

And being endorsed by the Christian Coalition of Ralph Reed? Its initials better stand for Culture of Corruption.

By the way, our endorsement did not lambaste Stephens' "conservative" record. We only pointed out the hypocrisy of a guy authoring a "sanctity of marriage" law even though his ex-wife told the media she divorced him because of sexual infidelity.

Posted by John F. Sugg

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