Beautiful. Just freaking beautiful.

It's because of stories like this that I often feel like weeping for my former home. Sen. David Vitter, the guy who owes Larry Craig a big sloppy kiss for taking him out of the spotlight in terms of Republican sex scandals, has done something far more damaging than lie about hookers.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education."

The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.

I was a young man when the state tried changing the science curriculum to include unabashed creationism--we were Kansas before Kansas, in other words--so this move isn't exactly a shock. And being that Louisiana has long boasted the best politicians money can buy, neither is this part of the story.
The group's tax-exempt status prohibits the Louisiana Family Forum from political activity, but Vitter has close ties to the group. Dan Richey, the group's grass-roots coordinator, was paid $17,250 as a consultant in Vitter's 2004 Senate race. Records also show that Vitter's campaign employed Beryl Amedée, the education resource council chairwoman for the Louisiana Family Forum.

And there it is--financial ties. The sad thing about all this is that it's likely to elevate Vitter to legendary status in Louisiana politics--sex and graft and pandering to the religious right all in one man. Edwin Edwards must be seething in his cell right now.

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