John Ensign invites Sharron Angle to lunch in D.C.

Nevada's shamed senator brings Nevada's great ultra-conservative hope around to meet the Senate gang

Published June 15, 2010 4:01PM (EDT)

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle is attending the weekly policy lunch of Republican senators in D.C. today. She is the guest of Sen. John Ensign. Apparently Ensign, who was chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee until he revealed his extramarital affair, is hoping some of that Angle magic rubs off on him.

But he didn't warn the other Republicans that he was inviting her:

A senior GOP Senate source said Ensign didn't officially inform those who run the lunch, which Ensign used to do before he was forced to resign from his leadership post.

"This is Ensign going rogue in an attempt to rehabilitate his soiled reputation by latching onto someone popular with Nevada voters," said the source.

It seems dumb for Angle to go out to lunch with Ensign, who is still under investigation for covering up his affair with a former employee whose husband was also a former employee. And for the outsider who beat the party's preferred candidate to meet with the Establishment itself is also a bit questionable.

The Democrats, obviously, are already making fun of both of them for this.

But Angle is just doing the things that a GOP candidate has to do in D.C. to get money. Tomorrow is Grover Norquist's famous breakfast. I think she'll be a hit there, what with her exciting ideas about privatizing her 87-year-old father's healthcare.

One additional wrinkle: Angle was not really a Republican for a good chunk of her adult life. I'm sure you'll be shocked to learn that she was a member of a far-right fringe third party called the Independent American Party back in the '90s. She did not become a Republican until she needed to run for office.

What is the deal with this Independent American Party? Well, they are scared of the North American Union and they think gay people will give us AIDS through drinking water. They have been around since the '60s and they got headlines in the '90s for their nutty, violent rhetoric about shooting all the socialists. They define "socialism" very loosely but are very afraid of it. All right-wing populist movements have been basically the exact same thing for many, many years.

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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2010 Elections Harry Reid John Ensign War Room