Monday, May 08, 2006

Democrat Scandals Get Wilder

OK, after Patrick Kennedy's Ambien-fueled driving escapades, you might think Democratic Party scandals couldn't possibly get any wilder. They just did.

Meet John S. Wilder, a Democrat who has been lieutenant governor of Tennessee for 35 years. An alert Donkey Cons reader in Nashville tells us that the wealthy Wilder seems to have been caught with his ethics down:
When land belonging to Lt. Gov. John Wilder's family got included in a project designed to bring an auto plant to West Tennessee, Gov. Phil Bredesen [Democrat] said the state wasn't doing anything to push the project along.
But in an effort to help make the proposed plant site marketable, two members of Bredesen's Cabinet have pledged to seek funding to fix nearby roads if an automaker wants to build there, state records show.

Critics of the project say they now question whether the governor is telling the truth about the state's role. They also say Wilder, who has been lieutenant governor since 1971, could have a conflict of interest in a potentially expensive state matter.

State officials "are participating in the certification process and helping it to go along by promising state resources," Gary Bullwinkel, a Fayette County resident, said of an effort to "certify" the site in neighboring Haywood County as factory-ready.
"The location of an interstate interchange on (Wilder family) land like that would mean millions of dollars," Bullwinkel said.
OK, you say, what's the big deal here? This is the kind of screw-the-little-guy deal that made Sheriff Bart the hero of Rock Ridge in "Blazing Saddles":
Haywood County has been working to get a 1,720-acre rural site up to TVA standards for marketing to automakers as a "megasite" suitable for an auto-assembly plant. An additional 200-plus acres owned by Wilder's family in Fayette County could be used to provide access to Interstate 40. ...

Fayette County residents who don't want an assembly plant in their area said they worry that state officials are working hard to attract one, and some fear Wilder is twisting arms to get it done. They say they oppose the idea because they worry about the impact of growth on rural areas, including environmental damage.

Shades of William J. LePetomane! OK, I'll lay off the "Blazing Saddles" jokes long enough to point out the yawning chasm between Tennessee Democrats' public propaganda and their (alleged) actions:
  • The wealthy Wilders would get richer.
  • The environment would get raped.
  • Sprawl? We got your sprawl here!
  • The poor folks in Fayette County don't get any say in the Bredesen-Wilder mega-corporate industrial development game.
Doesn't that sound a lot like John Edwards' "Two Americas"? Isn't this the kind of Big Business insider trading scheme that would make Al Gore start talking about the standing up for "the people, not the powerful"?

Did somebody say Al "Earth in the Balance" Gore? Destroying trees to build ... an automobile plant? (Suggested Democratic campaign slogan in Fayette County: Screw the trees, build SUVs!)

We here at Donkey Cons are greedy right-wingers. We make Gordon Gekko look like Mother Teresa. But you can bet your organic tofu farm that if a Republican were in a sleazy deal like this to use tax money to build an auto plant for Korporate Amerika, rape the environment, screw the local people and -- oh, by the way -- shove some government cash at the lieutenant-governor's family, Tennessee Democrats would be screaming bloody murder from Memphis to Bristol. But until folks in Fayette County started raising a fuss about it, nobody even noticed. And except for the Nashville Tennessean -- a great paper, even if they did once hire Al Gore — nobody in the media has said a word about this stinking mess.

Looks like the Dems in Tennessee have been taking lessons from Al "Beach Boy" Mollohan's ethics seminar -- oceanfront property's pretty expensive up in West Virginia.

Our friend in Nashville says Steve Gill was all over the Wilder scandal Monday morning, and you can bet Phil Valentine will jump on it, too. First it was Operation Tennessee Waltz, then "Fancy Ford" and his family's corruption circus, Bredesen's trying to act like Mr. Ethics, and meanwhile Tennessee taxpayers are being billed for a plan to rape Fayette County so the rich can get richer and wild get Wilder.

Keep coming back, folks: We'll be updating this one soon!

Previously in TENNESSEE:

3/15: Rich & Shameless
1/14: Dem ethics: Oxymoron?

-- McCAIN

UPDATE:
Also blogging on the Wilder scandal is Mark A. Rose at Right Minded, who points out that the Tennessee state Senate is on a pork-barrel spree.

Linked by Voluntary Conservative, where Rob asks:
Anyone doubt that Wilder did it? An even better question, though, is the following: Does anyone doubt that Wilder will get away with it?

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