Republicans named Congressman John Shimkus as the ranking member on the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. No, this isn't a joke.
Let's review a few facts that explain how completely ridiculous this is. First, Shimkus uses his position on the Energy & Commerce Committee to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from polluters.
He currently serves on the Republican House Energy Action Team, which consists of the polluting industries strongest allies in Washington. The League of Conservation Voters gives him a 4% career voting record, making him one of the most extremist anti-environment members of Congress.
Its disappointing enough that Republicans want someone with such a poor environmental record representing them on a subcommittee charged with investigating compliance with regulations in the energy industry and overseeing related government agencies. It's even more outrageous when you consider his track record with investigations.
Shimkus was one of the first people to find out about Congressman Mark Foley's inappropriate behavior toward under-age male pages working at the Capitol. He claims his investigation turned up nothing of serious concern. After having a talk with Foley he chose not to tell Democratic members of the page committee anything.
There are only two ways to interpret his actions. One, is that he honestly tried to conduct a thorough investigation and failed miserably thereby placing others in danger of continued harassment. The other explanation is that he participated in a cover up to protect a Republican colleague. Neither explanation leads me to think he should keep his seat in Congress, much less be put in a major position on a committee charged with investigations.
This assignment is like putting the captain of the Exxon Valdez in charge of giving breathalyzer tests before oil tankers set sail. Unbelievable.