Rewarding hubris, stupidity, hypocrisy and cynicism


Double-dippin’ Joe is back in the news. Double-dip is not some soda jerk working in an ice cream shop, but that’s not too far off. He’s a state legislator working in Texas to jerk taxpayers around for his own financial gain.

For years, Rep. Joe Driver was just another obscure, do-little, Texas right-winger. He kept getting elected in his solidly Republican district by ranting ceaselessly against the bugaboo of excessive government spending. But late last year, Joe flared for a brief moment into national notoriety as a blue-ribbon example of legislative hubris-stupidity-hypocrisy-cynicism on a stick.

He got caught double-billing for some $60,000 in travel expenses, getting reimbursed by both his campaign fund and Texas taxpayers. In defense, the 20-year legislative veteran (who, by the way, serves on the appropriations committee) entered a plea of stupidity: “If I knew it was wrong,” he said, “I wouldn’t have done it that way.”

Imagine a common robber trying that defense — but, then, robbers have ethics, whereas lawmakers just have power.

Joe has now cut a deal with prosecutors: a $5,000 fine, repay what he stole, plead guilty to the felony, and get five years probation. That’s it. No jail time.

Plus, he gets to serve out the remaining year of his legislative term (yes, Texas law allows convicted felons to stay in office), and at the end of his probation his conviction gets wiped off the books.

Wait, there’s more. Driver, who piously assails government spending on other people, gets to keep his state pension! So the taxpayers he ripped off will be sending $57,000 a year to Doubledippin’ Joe for the rest of his life. You see, crime does pay — if you’re one of the powerful elite.

And legislators like Driver wonder why common robbers are held in higher public esteem than they are.

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