Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Maximum Leader, His Lawyer, and the Stripper

Bada bing, bada boom.

Newsweek is running an online story that will hit their print edition on January 31. In a macro sense, the article is standard political fluff. Attorney General-in-waiting Al "Torture Memo" Gonzales' nomination is being held up, with Democrats awaiting satisfactory answers to questions that have been posed to Gonzales.

While torture's received all of the media play in this particular confirmation process, one of the outstanding questions has to do with his representation of Maximum Leader in a little issue in Texas back in 1996. The story itself is no major secret, and it's been in the press previously - but maybe there's an angle that no one had previously considered.

Here's a short synopsis - back in 1996, while governor of Texas, Dubya was called for jury duty in a drunk driving case. When he filled out his jury duty questionnaire, he failed to answer the question, "have you ever been accused in a criminal case?".

In the years since, (and Molly Ivins even touches on it in her book, Bushwhacked), speculation evolved that Dubya didn't fill out the question because it would have potentially exposed his own drunk driving conviction that occured in Maine in 1976.

His lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, requested a chambers meeting with the judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney to get Maximum Leader off the hook in both answering the question and serving on the jury of this specific case. The upshot of the meeting was that all parties apparently agreed to Dubya not serving because of a potential "conflict of interest" as governor.

This whole story is a bit odd. Certainly, if a governor receives a jury summons in the mail, he has many "outs" right up front. Dubya would have never even had to show up at the court. His potential service had advanced to the point where he was being empaneled for a specific case. It would be easy to leap to the conclusion that he actually wanted to serve, very publicly, and show his propensity for dispensing a little Texas justice at a local level in a relatively minor case.

But then he walked into the political hornet's nest of a drunk driving trial. Yet, still, a 20 year old DWI could easily be written off as "youthful indiscretion" if it ever came out, particularly in Texas. Nobody would bat an eye. And even back in 1996, Governor Dubya's walks on the wild side in his younger days weren't exactly state secrets. Verily, he had accepted Jesus in his life, so all past sins were forgiven.

Or was that even the issue?

Let's play dimestore novel writer for a moment. How's this for a plot line?

The drunk driving case involved a stripper from an Austin gentleman's club. What if a certain governor was fond of a little Bada Bing action every now and then? And what if, as he walked into the courtroom with the rest of the jury pool, he looked over at the defense side of the courtroom, and was surprised by who was sitting at the table? And what if the local magistrate began talking to the jury pool about the selection process, explaining the standard protocol and questions that are asked of all potential jury members by the prosecution and defense lawyers - one of which is:

"Do you know the defendant?"