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The Baby Jesus 

Reed scores big wampum from Indian casino "bandits"

Lo! And he went amongst them, preaching against the rolling of dice and the shuffling of cards and the cranking of the one-armed bandits, and he did maketh them cast out gambling by our dear brethren, the American Indian.

Yes, beloved, it's Good Book time with Brother Doug, reading from our special revised "Loafing" version. Today's lesson is from "The Book of Ralph." Our verses recount the adventures of the Baby Jesus, also known as Brother Ralph Reed. The Baby Jesus, as you know, is the former head of the Christian Coalition, the man who took over when Pat Robertson wanted a stronger organization man at the helm of his religion-driven political organization. Reed is also the former chairman of Georgia's Republican Party, and is currently a candidate for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor in 2006.

Awhile back, the Baby Jesus set out on a mission to enlist his fellow Christians and the state of Texas to close Speaking Rock Casino, operated by the Tigua Indian Tribe in El Paso.

He was working for Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist and major fundraiser for President George W. Bush, and Michael Scanlon, a public relations whiz and former press aide to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas.

In an e-mail to Abramoff, the Baby Jesus said his disciples had called upon the Texas attorney general to cast out the casino, pronouncing proudly, "We did get our pastors riled up last week, calling his office."

The mission was blessed with success. The state of Texas shuttered the casino in the Year of Our Lord 2002.

In return for this good work in Texas and two other states from 2001 to 2003, the Baby Jesus was rewarded mightily with 4 million crisp American dollars.

And now we depart from our text to turn to a secular source, the Arizona Republic: "Within days of the closure of the Tigua Indians' casino, Abramoff and Scanlon turned coat and persuaded the tribe to hire them for $4.2 million to try to get it reopened."

Abramoff and Scanlon made back all of the $4 million they paid Reed plus a touch more to try to undo what Reed just did!

It's a miracle of modern marketing! And it was just a drop in the bucket! In all, Abramoff and Scanlon are alleged to have collected $82 million from six Indian tribes and secretly split the profits.

"Along the way," says the Arizona Republic, "they privately denigrated tribal members in e-mails as 'stupid,' 'moronic,' 'monkeys' and 'troglodytes.'"

When the Tigua Indians tried to defend themselves with newspaper ads, the Baby Jesus e-mailed Abramoff on Nov. 12, 2001, and said, "Wow. These guys are really playing hard ball. Do you know who their consultant(s) are?"

Abramoff replied, "Some stupid lobbyists up here who do Indian issues. We'll find out and make sure our friends crush them like bugs!"

He should have said their friends would "smite" them.

Abramoff — who has since been cast off by his prestigious law firm, Greenberg Traurig — sent an e-mail to Reed on Feb. 11, 2002, saying, "I wish those moronic Tiguas were smarter in their political contributions. I'd love us to get our mitts on that moolah."

If you really want to see how ruthless Republicans with close ties to US House Majority Leader Tom DeLay operate, go to www.indian.senate.gov/ and read the e-mails and exhibits from two hearings last fall. My favorite exchange was on Feb. 19, 2002, when Scanlon sent Abramoff a news item about the Tigua tribe closing the casino, which incidentally putting 450 people out of work.

"Is life great or what!!!" Abramoff replied.

Three days later, Abramoff e-mailed Scanlon about somebody who put his name on a public list: "That fucking idiot put my name on an e-mail list. What a fucking moron. He may have blown our cover!! Dammit. We are moving forward anyway and taking their fucking money."

Brother Doug was shocked at such language. He also was shocked that some conservatives worked up the courage to criticize fellow Republicans. Abramoff and Scanlon were described as "Beltway Bandits" by the conservative Weekly Standard. The two are now being investigated by a Senate committee headed by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., plus five federal agencies.

So, how does one of the nation's best-known Christians respond to all this? He's going to Disney World!

Brother Doug is such a kidder! No, the Baby Jesus is not going to Disney World. He already had his well-earned vacation in August 2002 — a $100,000 golf junket on a private jet to St. Andrews in Scotland with Abramoff and Scanlon, paid for by — guess who? — American Indians! The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas provided the love offering.

But don't get the idea that the Baby Jesus knew anything about gambling in River City. His political consulting firm, Century Strategies, collected $4 million, but the Baby Jesus was an innocent martyr. Reed's spokeswoman told the Washington Post he didn't know Abramoff and Scanlon had been hired by the Tiguas after its casino was closed.

Here's part of a statement from the firm: "At no time were we retained by nor did we represent any casino or casino company." Instead, the statement said, "Ralph Reed and Century Strategies have long been opposed to the expansion of casino gambling." Blah, blah, blah.

Brother Doug thinks there is no way in hell that Ralph Reed didn't know exactly what was going on. His friendship with Abramoff dates back nearly a quarter-century, to their days as College Republicans. And the Baby Jesus would have to have been born in a manger yesterday to think that $4 million from Washington lobbyists was manna from heaven.

That said, Brother Doug doesn't think the Indian casino scandal will be a problem for Reed in Georgia politics. For one thing, Georgia ran off all the Indians on the Trail of Tears. And even if Reed did something wrong, the Lord will forgive him in a heartbeat. The voters will forgive him, too, because he's not a Democrat. Thus, the Baby Jesus enters electoral politics as spotless as a lamb.

But it appears that not all his fellow Republicans want to anoint him with oil just yet. In fact, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's "Political Insider" column suggests that Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue's folks are pushing Fulton County Commission Chairwoman Karen Handel to head off Reed by joining the crowded field in the GOP lieutenant governor's primary next year.

Reed's disciples in Georgia aren't going to like it one bit if they perceive the Perdue machine trying to squeeze out the Baby Jesus. Such political shenanigans will send fundamentalist Christians ballistic. Hell, it would piss off a Buddhist!

Besides, the Georgia lieutenant governor's race isn't really about the lieutenant governor's office. It's about the White House. Brother Doug read about this in the Washington Times, the conservative newspaper and propaganda sheet of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who's also in the Messiah business.

Here's the scenario: Reed gets elected next year as Georgia's lieutenant governor, then governor in 2010, then president in 2012 or 2016.

But if he should decide to challenge Perdue next year in the GOP primary, he could speed up the process considerably. And, face the facts, the Baby Jesus is a much more attractive candidate than Perdue, who has all the charisma of a hog farmer.

So, if Reed gets elected governor next year, he could become president in 2008.

All Brother Doug can say about that is, "Let us pray."

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