Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Lawmaker proves he'd shame Idaho in Washington

If state Rep. Bill Sali makes it into Idaho political history as an italicized footnote, he'll be remembered as the most mocked, most rebuked, most embarrassing state lawmaker in modern memory.

And that's just among his own Republican colleagues.

Sali is the Lone Ranger of political boorishness in the state Legislature, so consumed with self-righteousness he once called himself "better than most" lawmakers despite his self-described "brain fade" and impaired memory from an auto accident.

Rep. Sali was a logical protégé for some on the religious right to carry on their persistent efforts to sabotage abortion. Neither Sali nor his mentors seem concerned that taxpayers end up paying for their crackpot ideas.

One of his ill-fated laws called for parental notification to prevent minors from having abortions without parental consent. It cost the state nearly $400,000 in payments to Planned Parenthood to cover a successful court fight against the law. Sali and his anti-abortion mentors are quick with harebrained ideas, but safe from paying court-ordered penalties when the ideas collide with the constitution.

Now the 54-year-old Kuna Republican has another distinction. His churlish harangue, in which he linked abortions with breast cancer, shut down the state House last Friday.

Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, a breast cancer survivor, was in tears over Sali's contention, which is contradicted by the American Cancer Society. Republican Speaker Bruce Newcomb recessed the House and rebuked Sali for his behavior. Democrats walked out. Newcomb adjourned the session in rage, sputtering later that Sali "is just an absolute idiot" who "doesn't have one ounce of empathy in his whole fricking body."

Now why should this be of any real concern to Idahoans?

Sali is a candidate to succeed Rep. Butch Otter in Congress, and has more campaign money in the kitty than other candidates—at least $244,000 from mostly non-Idaho sources.

Idaho's 2nd District congressman, Rep. Mike Simpson, obviously couldn't work with Sali. After Sali's speech last week, Simpson recalled when he was Idaho House speaker he told Sali if he didn't stop lying, "I'll throw you out the window." House colleagues called Simpson to say, "The third floor isn't high enough—you should have taken him up to the fourth floor."

If elected, Sali would be isolated as a hopeless fringe thinker engaged in pointless campaigns. He would fail to represent Idaho interests. He also would shame the state each time he opened his mouth with the kind of loopy nonsense that has turned the GOP against him in Idaho.

First District voters should give Rep. Sali his comeuppance—a rousing defeat in the May primary election.

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