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Thursday, Dec. 9, 2004 09:50 am

common sense 12-9-04

art1622

What is it about ultra-right conservatives who build careers as tongue-clucking scolds? They constantly preach about the moral failings of the rest of us -- yet they keep getting caught with their own pants down, morally speaking.

I don't merely mean the Falwells, Swaggarts, and other publicly compromised televangelists -- I'm also talking about the right-wing politicos who prance about so piously on their moral high horses. How swell to be lectured on family values by Newt Gingrich, who's now on his third or fourth marriage, or Bill Bennett, who anointed himself as the nation's arbiter of conservative virtues while sneaking around feeding his gambling addiction. And who can forget the bombastic moral authority of the airwaves, Rush Limbaugh, using his housekeeper to score illegal drugs for him and then trying to lie about it? Are these people born with an extra hypocrisy gene?

It's not just in America, either. Britain is all atwitter these days about one of its own especially noisy tongue-cluckers, the right honorable Boris Johnson. He's the Latin-spouting, Eton-schooled editor of the right-wing Spectator, a London newspaper long tied to England's plutocratic Conservative party. Indeed, Boris himself is a Conservative member of the Parliament -- where he has served as the party's official spokesperson on cultural policies, freely criticizing the personal morality of others.

He's been removed from that party post, however, since it has been revealed that Boris the moralist, who is married and has four children, has been cheating on his wife, having an affair with a society columnist at his paper. Furthermore, Boris impregnated the mistress, she had an abortion, and he tried to lie about it, initially calling the accusations "an inverted pyramid of piffle."

What a great phrase! Right-wingers lecturing us on morality are dumping a pyramid of political piffle on us.

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