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Rep. Trey Radel proves that booze is still the best gateway drug

Just when I was starting to think that Toronto had the market covered on drunken, cocaine-binging politicians, along comes Rep. Trey Radel.

The Florida tea party Republican and self-styled "hip-hop conservative" — really, that’s how he described himself in his Twitter profile; who knew tea party Republicans could be so social-media savvy? — has been charged with possession of cocaine. He’s to be arraigned Wednesday.

Well, there’s goes the family values vote, I suppose. Although, being from Florida, this might not hurt him when it comes time to raise campaign funds — or bail money.

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Honestly, though I am a political junkie (that’s all, I swear, just politics!), I had never heard of Radel. So I did what all well-informed bloggers do these days: I went trolling on the Internet. I could have gone to Fox News, but I decided instead on a totally unbiased source — Mother Jones — which gave me some insight into America’s version of the Toronto train wreck Rob Ford.

Seems that Radel’s career before politics was somewhat, uh, colorful. Mother Jones reports that he owned sexguideonline.com, a company that, blush blush, "bought somewhat pornographic sex-themed domain names in both English and Spanish."

Hey, a guy’s gotta make a living; in English and Spanish, if need be. (I’d like to tell you what some of the names were, but the L.A. Times isn’t as liberal as Mother Jones. Honest!)

Oh, and Radel was also a Fox News radio host. (Insert your own joke here — or not, depending on your political persuasion.)

Mother Jones writer Stephanie Mencimer certainly couldn’t resist having a little fun at Radel’s expense, observing: "Just weeks ago, Radel won some accolades for becoming one of the few Republicans to support drug sentencing reform. He co-sponsored the Justice Safety Valve Act, which would provide an exception to mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws to allow shorter sentences for non-violent, low-level offenders. Radel may get a chance to see how such a law works first hand. He was arrested in DC, which has a special drug court that is designed to funnel low-level addicts into rehab rather than long-term jail time."

Who says legislators are just looking out for themselves?

Radel also borrowed a page from his counterpart in the frozen north, blaming his drug misstep on alcoholism. Which makes me think that perhaps it’s time we revisited the notion that marijuana is the only gateway drug. Either that, or we give Prohibition another try.

Now, some will try to make political hay out of this. Cue the Democratic House pit bull, Nancy Pelosi, who observed Tuesday that "Radel’s drug charge came shortly after the House Republican majority voted to require food stamp recipients to take drug tests." Ouch! But c’mon, Nancy, no one has suggested he was trying to commit a real crime like food stamp fraud.

No, I won’t stoop. Radel may be a druggie, but he was a hardworking druggie: The Times’ Michael Memoli reported that Radel "sent Twitter messages several times on the date he is alleged to have bought cocaine, including two on issues involving the Affordable Care Act. The House was in session that day, and Radel participated in every vote, as well as those the following day."

See, all Republicans — even the alcoholic, drug-abusing ones — are prepared to give their all to deny healthcare to Americans.

As for me, I’ll just throw Radel into that rotten-apple political barrel in which bob Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer and Larry Craig and Marion Berry and Kwame Kilpatrick and Robert Rizzo and — gosh, we’ve sure had our share of naughty politicians lately, haven’t we?

Must be the booze.

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