Monday, March 28, 2005

You Can't Make This Stuff Up. We Tried

As you might surmise from the title of this blog, we often go rafting through those frothy ripples that make up white water on the river of life in the early 21st century.

You might surmise that, but you'd be wrong. Mostly, we just make stuff up. OK. OK. We may start with our kayak in the reality based lagoon but we much prefer "creative nonfiction" to--and pardon our language here--reporting.

That being said, every once in a while we run across a little backwater of reality so astoundingly bizarre that even here in the marbled halls of IM Central we have to slap our palms to our foreheads and say, "You've got to be kidding." This past weekend we innocently floated into just such a swamp.

Tom DeLay, last bastion of Congressional ethics, Darth Vader's evil twin and defender of the brain dead did, in fact, pull the plug on his own father in 1988. "The situation faced by the congressman's family was entirely different than Terri Schiavo's," said a spokesman, "DeLay's father was too old to campaign for the Congressman. And besides, we weren't in trouble with the Ethics Committee back then and didn't need the diversion."

There were, however, similarities: Both stricken patients were severely brain-damaged. Both were incapable of surviving without medical assistance. Both were said to have expressed a desire to be spared from being kept alive by artificial means. And neither of them had a living will. "Look, a spokesperson for DeLay said, "the Congressman didn't make the Schiavo crisis. He's just taking advantage of it, that's all."

So what did the grieving Congressman do after the death of his father? Filed suit against Midcap Bearing Corp. of San Antonio and Lovejoy Inc. of Illinois, the distributor and maker of a coupling that he said failed and caused the tram his father had been riding to become uncontrollable.

Yes, that's the same Tom DeLay, who wants to end these types of lawsuits by controlling trial lawyers and protecting American businesses from "frivolous, parasitic lawsuits" that raise insurance premiums and "kill jobs." He is an outspoken defender of business against the crippling effects of "predatory, self-serving litigation." On the House floor he attacked trial lawyers whom he said, "get fat off the pain" of plaintiffs and off "the hard work" of defendants. "You should have seen the cut those vultures took out of my 250K," DeLay told a reporter.

DeLay cosponsored a bill specifically designed to override state laws on product liability such as the one cited in his lawsuit. When asked about the apparent contradiction at a press conference, DeLay replied, "Look. You think I can afford to run a campaign based on contributions from ordinary citizens? Corporations. That's where the money is, and I can't do good if I don't get elected."

Aides for DeLay defended his role as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, saying he did not follow the legal case and was not aware of its final outcome. "He stayed drunk most of the time," an aide said. "I don't even think he remembers cashing the check."

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