Family values, GOP style

From Pennsylvania to Washington and Colorado in between, Republican hypocrisy is the gift that keeps giving.

Published May 10, 2005 6:33PM (EDT)

We've been so busy lately noting the nuclear-specific hypocrisy of Republican politicians that we've been derelict in our duty to bring you news of the usual, garden-variety GOP hypocrisy. But that particular brand of news never really stops -- especially when it comes to matters of "family values" -- so perhaps we're due for an update.

We begin in Denver, where Vice President Dick Cheney made a stop Monday to raise campaign cash for Rep. Marilyn Musgrave. You remember Dick Cheney -- he's the Republican vice president with a gay daughter, the one who opposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage before he supported it. And you remember Marilyn Musgrave, the Republican congresswoman who proposed the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage back when Dick Cheney still opposed such a thing. What did Cheney have to say about his flip-flopping support for Musgrave Monday? Well, nothing, only that it turns out that Musgrave has turned out "to be exactly the right person for the job."

Next stop, Tunkhannock, Penn., where Republican Rep. Don Sherwood, a 64-year-old married man with two grown daughters, is trying to overcome the scandal surrounding his relationship with a 29-year-old woman named Cynthia Ore. Everything was just swell between Sherwood and Ore -- she met him at a Young Republicans meeting in 1999 and was charmed by his "pink, rosy skin" and "big glasses" -- until she called the cops on him in September, alleging that he had begun choking her while giving her a backrub in his Washington apartment. The Times-Leader got word of the incident earlier this month, and now Sherwood has been forced to apologize for causing "pain and embarrassment" to his family. So far, Sherwood hasn't apologized for voting last year in favor of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, the measure based on the premise that gay people marrying each other -- and not, say, philandering husbands -- is a blow to the sanctity of marriage.

We wrap up our journey in Spokane, Wash., where Republican Mayor Jim West has just announced that he'll be taking a couple of weeks off to defend himself against allegations that he molested children and provided city jobs to men he met in gay internet chat rooms. West, a former leader in the Washington state senate, has denied that he molested children but has said he doesn't deny that he had relations with adult men. Still, he says he's being "persecuted" and subjected to "media hysteria." The media outrage wouldn't have anything to do with West's strong record of opposition to gay rights, would it? Or is West still "exactly the right person" for his job, too?

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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