Gonzales Invokes the Homer Simpson Defense

You just cannot make this stuff up. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, spends much of his Thursday deflating his former boss' story about the eight fired U.S. Attorneys and how does the Attorney General respond? By issuing a written statement late in the day that essentially says this: Yes, Sampson may have been keeping me in the loop on the firings after all but I wasn't really paying attention ("never focused" was the exact phrase) to what he was saying. It's the Homer Simpson defense to the Kyle Sampson story and if this were a Little League game they would have invoked the 10-run rule by now and sent Gonzales go home to Texas to once again become a lucrative private attorney.

But, alas, the Attorney General is still with us, at least for today, his credibility and reputation tattered and the wolves-- not just Democrats, mind you, but increasingly creeped-out Republicans-- howling at the door. Even if Gonzales is now telling the truth about his role in Firegate, even if somehow his story can be synched up with Sampson's, we all deserve so much more from our Attorney General that the next 18 days or so-- leading up to Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee-- will be excruiating. How badly does an Attorney General have to behave, how badly does he have to lead, how much prestige and trust does he have to lose, before he is forced, by his own conscience if nothing else, to make way for someone else? You tell me.

Meanwhile, while his position becomes more and more untenable, Gonzales is sticking to a schedule that has him going from venue to venue to talk about a worthwhile initiative called Project Safe Childhood. It is a shame that this creative project gets buried, day after day, under the weight of the strife and turmoil at the Justice Department. It is a shame that all anyone wants to talk to Gonzales about is his botched leadership. It is a shame that the charade of "keeping up with the daily business" has to be played out day after day. Gonzales had his chance to be a good leader at the Justice Department. He had his chance to stand up for what's right and push for what is good. Instead, he now says he "never focused' on the specifics of the plan to fire the U.S. Attorneys. Not good enough. Just not good enough.

By Andrew Cohen |  March 30, 2007; 9:00 AM ET agag
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The longer Gonzales stays on, the more ineffective his department and his government become. The best we can hope for is that Bush will continue to stand by Gonzales for the remainder of his Presidency, thus rendering the Republican Party moot by 2008.

Posted by: H5N1 | March 30, 2007 09:21 AM

ACCORDIN G TO WAYNEMADSENREPORTMarch 27, 2007 -- BREAKING STORY. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' "loyal Bushie" U.S. Attorney for Western Texas covered up a major pedophile scandal with the connivance of the Justice Department's Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, already under pressure for firing several U.S. Attorneys not considered "loyal Bushies," now faces another scandal. Albert Moskowitz, the Chief of the Criminal Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, sent a letter dated September 27, 2005, to the Superintendent of the Texas Youth Commission's West Texas State School youth detention facility declining the prosecution of two of the Texas agency's employees -- Ray Brookins and John Hernandez -- for engaging in sexual molestation of 10 underage males incarcerated at the facility. The charges of molestation were originally brought by Texas Ranger Brian J. Burzynski. Earlier, in a July 28, 2005 letter, the Assistant US Attorney for West Texas, Bill Baumann, who works for US Attorney Johnny Sutton, a close friend of Gonzales, sent a letter to Burzynski declining federal prosecution in the pedophile case. In a decision that indicates that the Gonzales Justice Department defines child molestation in very narrow and high threshold terms, Baumann wrote that the young men at the West Texas facility that claimed they were raped by Brookins and Hernandez did not sustain "bodily injury" or "bodily pain." Baumann also defined aggravated sexual assault as resulting from a "perpetrator knowingly causing his victim to engage in a sexual act (which can include contact between the mouth and penis) by force against the victim or by threatening or placing the victim in fear that the victim (or any other person) will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury or kidnapping). Baumann stated, "I do not believe that sufficient evidence exists to support a charge that either Brookins or Hernandez used force to cause victims to engage in a sexual act." Astonishingly, Baumann also writes that "none of the victims admit they consented to the sexual contact" with the juvenile facility employees. However, Baumann then suggests that the underage males came on to the prison guards and were "simply 'getting off' on the school administrator. Baumann also indicates that "many students" were "retained at the West Texas State School long after their initial release date" but that "it would be difficult to prove that either Mr. Brookins or Mr. Hernandez prevented their release."

Posted by: LEONARD | March 30, 2007 09:31 AM

Given the Bush Administration's history of actually PROMOTING failures (but loyal failures), I am wondering how far UP the ladder Bush will kick his buddy. Firing him doesn't seem to be an option that Bush has even considered.

Posted by: Nellie | March 30, 2007 10:04 AM

Bush's Justice Department is pretty much the culmination of what his intentions are for the federal government overall; elimination.
What I don't understand are all those who get to complain about FEMA on one hand, but corrupting the Justice and State Depts in the way that Gonzeles has through sheer incompetence is okay. When did it become a value to our society to intentionally set out to destroy the very institution one leads?
Whatever has happened to the "moral value" of accountability?

Posted by: Suzanne | March 30, 2007 10:19 AM

Who do you think is more likely to make it thru the weekend intact:...G'town (as NCAA champs) or Gonzales as AG ?

Posted by: whataretheodds | March 30, 2007 01:14 PM

Gonzales' new line: He may have been informed about which U. S. Attorneys were to be fired, he didn't really focus on it. Apparently, he just turned it over to a chief of staff, who tells us he was not a decider but a collater. Does that give one any comfort. An attorney general who could care less about the future of eight U. S. Attorneys under his supervision who are to be canned without any explanation other that their "under-performance." Not for my taste!

Posted by: Lewis Odom | March 30, 2007 04:37 PM

Gonzales will be a source of contempt and ridicule for the rest of his tenure, regardless of what he has actually done. Steadfast loyalty by the president will hurt the president and his party and not help Gonzales. Interesting situation.

Posted by: frodot | March 30, 2007 05:10 PM

Is Congress the only valid court for an AG? Can he/she just decide not to show up or respond to Congressional calls, or perhaps quit just in time? Is not "a decider but a collater" a defense for not revealing what you knew? Can it ever be argued that a particular official government position is so big that whoever occupies it has special rights to flip the rest of us off?

We are going to find out the answers.

Posted by: On the plantation | March 30, 2007 06:22 PM

He aint a credit to his race. Or ethnicity. Maybe we liberals are wrong about immigration, if this is where it leads!

Posted by: thrh | March 31, 2007 12:06 AM

I was just reading that Gonzales is going to take a couple weeks off from his regular schedule to prepare for his mid-April public testimony. That testimony*s main purpose is to show whether or not he is capable and competent to stay in his job. Now, I am a businessman and experienced manager. In my world, if somebody needs to take two weeks away from his duties to prepare for a showing that he or she is capable and competent to do his or her job, the answer is already clear. And, by the way, in the world where I live, people are supposed to spend their time doing their jobs; they do not get paid to waste time preparing the defense of their positions.

Posted by: Gale | March 31, 2007 12:08 AM


Posted by: truth | March 31, 2007 12:37 AM

Beavis and Butthead in action in our Republican administration. Are these guys for real? *I was there but I wasn't paying attention*, *I knew what I was doing in my own mind*? This is our Justice Department when run by Republicans.

Posted by: mikeasr | March 31, 2007 12:52 AM

I'll go you one more and suggest that Gonzo wishes he could mount a Homer Simpson Defense, much less a Ralph Wiggim plea. Unfortunately, the rest of us are stuck trying to figure out his Never Ending Story (tm). First they broke the army, then homeland security, then the FBI, then FEMA, then Walter Reed, the VA and now the justice department. I bet the postal service is getting pretty nervous right about now.

Posted by: AppeaseThis | March 31, 2007 12:52 AM

Hey, take him to "ORGAN FAILURE"!

Posted by: harried | March 31, 2007 12:56 AM

It seems that when a rotten regime begins to crumble, its elements, institutions, and people go on a bender. I will not call the Bushies insane nor evil; that distances them from the public that went along with everything. Everything that has and is going on now was fully supported by the people. However, now that things are collapsing, we hate to recognize that we are looking through a mirror. Now, the reckless, petulant, and greedy flailing within and around this administration reflect the avarice, intolerance, and financial lusts that have long and increasingly fractured America. The saddest and most dangerous thing of all is that fractured power in its last throes intentionally takes everybody, everything with it.

Posted by: Staggo Lee | March 31, 2007 01:32 AM

So Gonzo will be off two weeks to prepare for his dog and pony show in front of Congress, and...whoa! Breaking news! George Bush does a photo op at Walter Reed! He apologizes! He vows to "fix" the mess! Whew. For a while I was worried that things were spinning out of control, but now I can rest easy.

Posted by: John Palcewski | March 31, 2007 01:42 AM

Yes, they really believe if they stall long enough, this will all blow over. In Homers world it might go away after that commerial break, but not in the real world. Bush has never known when to cut his losses, as witnessed by the way he throws our children in front of the IEDs when we all know we should be out of Iraq.

Posted by: OneCrankyDom | March 31, 2007 01:45 AM

This from an individual who was willing to argue semantics concerning habeus corpus in the Constitution; Mr. Gonzales was having problems focusing before this developement, that is for sure!

Posted by: cynubie | March 31, 2007 02:52 AM

With regard to the federal institutional systems being systematically broken by the Bushie Administration, may we please include Education? Environment? And of course, systematic dismantling of these institutions is necessary if privatization is to be made possible. The public must be allowed to see to what depths federal institutions can fail before they can swallow the notion of privatization. So this whole sordid mess at Justice ends up playing very well for the Bush Administration's base agenda. When viewed from this perspective, one can understand the weird logic behind Bush rewarding failure on the part of these individuals in charge.

Posted by: VigilantCitizen | March 31, 2007 03:14 AM

Johnny Sutton, the West Texas USAttorney, is the one that Lou Dobbs has had his knickers in a twist over the prosecution of the Border Patrol agents after immunity was given to a Mexican drug dealer/smuggler. The Texas Lege, as usless a grouping as has ever assembled, is at long last "horrified" at the Youth Facilities disaster. If performance was actually a reason for disposing of USAs, this ol' boy would lead the parade.

Posted by: TexasEllen | March 31, 2007 04:27 AM

Gonzales should resign. The longer he stays on the worst he is making it for future Latinos. They will all be put into the same mold as Gonzales - not to be trusted, no integrity.

Posted by: | March 31, 2007 05:38 AM

What we seem to have missed is that "privatization" and the destruction of government agencies is all of a piece. The ultimate goal is to evade responsibility--to rule without accountability. That, as Justice Kennedy has so clearly stated, the purpose of the rule of law is to "bind" the agents of government and limit what they can do is clearly unacceptable to this crew.
What the neocons aim for is the return of "sovereign immunity" which lets government officials do whatever they want, as long as they can claim to be doing it in their official capacity.

Posted by: Hannah | March 31, 2007 06:32 AM

Gonzales won't resign unless Bush tells him to. He has no shame. Face it, he's basically Charlie McCarthy, wooden-headed puppet of Bush.

Posted by: DC Hispanic | March 31, 2007 06:42 AM

Gonzo will be out by the end of April. Not even Republicans are defending him these days, so it won-t be long. We-ll know a couple of days ahead of the official announcement, as his body language will change. So, keep a sharp eye out.

Posted by: PagCal | March 31, 2007 06:47 AM

I think I smell a Medal of Freedom in Mr. Gonzales future.

Posted by: | March 31, 2007 07:11 AM

Things just aren-t going well for the Bush Administration, what with the FBI and Interior Department added to the firings flap. But you can only read so much about King George II before it begins to turn you cynical, so I-m making this my last post on the subject. I predict it will die down until Gonzales testifies, and we can all be sure that all the media will bring it back to our attention at that time. And I, for one, am still interested in how a once-mildly-prominent area Congressman can evade what I believe were shady dealings with the former second in command at Interior, J. Steven Griles. How does the saying go? Let me see -- just because I-m paranoid doesn-t mean the Congressman isn-t out to get me. I wonder if my political views are still subject to review by the FBI as they once were. I-ll never forget the day before The Patriot Act when the FBI showed up at my door with a sheaf of my e-mail and my phone calls were being tapped. Life goes on.

Posted by: J. Maibie | March 31, 2007 07:26 AM

Now that we give names to defenses, can we call Scooter Libby's the 50 first date defense? Every morning for two months, he awoke without knowing who Valerie Plame was, discovered it for the first time that morning, leaked it that afternoon, and woke up the next morning having forgotten again.

Posted by: baldguy | March 31, 2007 07:35 AM

One of two things is true. He is incompetent, or he is a liar.

Either is more than adequate cause for his sacking.


Posted by: James | March 31, 2007 08:14 AM

The longer Gonzales clings to his job, the worse the credibility of the DOJ becomes. At this point, the DOJ appears so compromised that one must wonder about the US Attorneys who were NOT fired. Did they keep their job because they were *loyal Bushies* and used the power of their office to pursue Bush*s -- through Rove and Meiers -- political agenda? The public needs to find out. These people are our employees. We are paying them, they are accountable to us.

Posted by: | March 31, 2007 08:25 AM

Considering Mr. Gonzales' views about our constitutional rights and his obvious contempt for the Legislative Branch as a check and balance on the Executive, I am SO grateful that this man will not be nominated to the Supreme Court and then approved by a rubber-stamp Republican Congress - which was, I think, the Plan in the Karl Rovian One Party Rule alternative reality we'd all be living in without the last midterm elections!

The continuing meltdown of the Bush administration would be merely depressing low comedy if it weren't so dangerous for our country and specifically for our men and women in uniform. The stench of their hubris is revolting!

Meanwhile we get to watch the Republican Party's list of potential candidates for president continue to grow - and shrink - as their machinations to hold onto Executive Power get desperate: Seems Guiliani may be about to be revealed to be a crook, or at least the partner of a crook; McCain has become a kowtow to the Big Money he used to deride as well as the War Candidate (who's politically advising this guy?), Mitt Romney has become a joke... Uh, What about that actor guy? He's defeated terrorists and criminals in the movies lots of times!
Again, low comedy if it weren't so dangerous for our precious Constitution!

Posted by: Sean Kirk | March 31, 2007 08:32 AM

Sadly, the Bush administration has corrupted the entire federal govt. There isn't one dept, branch, organization, etc that he hasn't politicized. He's made a practice of choosing loyalty to party over competence. However, it's a real stab in the heart of a democracy when the judicial system is perceived as partisan in a country that has prided itself on respecting the rule of law. Bush has practically succeeded in reducing the US to a banana republic. The rest of the world certainly sees it. How shameful and embarrassing. Of course this all started when the partisan SCOTUS went against the wishes of the voters and appointed Bush president.

Posted by: spicegal | March 31, 2007 08:36 AM

What else do you expect from a gang that gave the country Iraq, New Orleans orchestrated by FEMA, thievery, and budget deficits stretching to the next galaxy. That being only some of the low points. But it was the citizens of this country that put these creeps into office, and we should impeach ourselves for this crime.

Posted by: Tom | March 31, 2007 08:54 AM

Kudos to Staggo Lee. I want to note that Firegate and the corruption of DoJ goes beyond the various other failures of this administration: it is an attack on the corrective mechanisms of our system of government. Firegate is the first public attention to a wider pattern of subverting the DoJ watchdogs against voter suppression...civil rights division...and public corruption...not just the Carol Lam firing, but also perhaps the public integrity section, if the Griles sweetheart plea deal in the Abramoff matter is any indication. Even so, it is not the worst of the Gonzales crimes. The AG is the man who asserted the legal basis for the US retreat from the Geneva Conventions and its international norms of humane behavior. I continue to be shocked that the American public and press let that one get by. It says more about our nation than it does about the Bush cult. They will slip into history soon, but we must continue to live with ourselves and with our neighbors who drank the koolade.

Posted by: chase | March 31, 2007 09:06 AM

you're acting as if AG cares about anything more than making Bush happy and covering for him.

Posted by: cc | March 31, 2007 09:08 AM

"At this point, the DOJ appears so compromised that one must wonder about the US Attorneys who were NOT fired. Did they keep their job because they were *loyal Bushies* and used the power of their office to pursue Bush*s -- through Rove and Meiers -- political agenda?"

...and protect and reward loyal Republicans across the country by laying off them and prosecuting Democrats and disloyal Republicans when it would help them either politically or in business dealings?

at the least you have to wonder, why just 8. Why not 10 or 12. 15. 25. Why not half of them.

Surely half of them were below average, compared to the rest. They could have done *better*.

I guess the problem is in firing your loyal staff, that you send out the wrong message. True loyalty requires continued rewarding, not termination after long sacrifice...

Posted by: cc | March 31, 2007 09:13 AM

one other thing...how do you go from being a political operative to an attorney general?

Posted by: cc | March 31, 2007 09:14 AM

For Bush, It must be difficult to determine what he is going to lie about each day. If there ever was an impeachable president, GWB is it. The people of this country, who voted this incompetent are accountable. The Swift boat, swift lie tactics of Rove should be punished by prison terms for the perpetrators, Cheney, Rove, Bush and others. I list them in their order of power, Cheney, obviously the leader! Republicans are hoping that as the list of their crimes and misdemeanors lengthens, we will become numb and apathetic, unfortunately the military people are paying for it with their lives.
Please will someone in the Congress get the cojones to bring about impeachment. We all know the formula, if a Republican's office is in peril because of Bush, they'll turn on him like a pit bull, we are already there, bring charges now!!!

Posted by: Pepe | March 31, 2007 09:19 AM

There is but one thing that can be said: Bong Hits for Jesus!

Posted by: frank burns | March 31, 2007 09:28 AM

I like the Homer Simpson analogy because it is apt on so many levels when describing the truly squalid character if this President. Anyone who is an afficianaddo of the Simpsons knows Homer is a gullible ignoramus who falls easy prey to any carny showman out to sell him a bill of goods. As it turns out--luckily for this President--there is a readymade army of Homers out there who comprise a good part of the GOP base. At the moment they are the only thing keeping this President from having zero support in the electorate. Like the gullible and unlearning Homer, no matter how many times they get rooked by this carny hypnotist, they keep coming back for more, somehow convinced that in the end his magic is going to bring them that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Posted by: Jaxas | March 31, 2007 10:14 AM

Gonzales' defense is reminiscent of Bush's attention related by then Sec. of the Treasury Paul O'Neil, " he looked like a deer in the headlights and a blind man in a room full of deaf people."(Paraphrasing) Apparently he wasn't listening in class when he was being taught international law, constitutional law, treaties and government. This pair, Bush and Gonzales haven't risen above a ward healer and an enforcer. What is worse is there are people still supporting this lame individual. Bruce Fine is putting forth Laurence Silberman as attornry General. He may not be a crony(may not) but he is hard core Republican and it appears to me has put politics ahead of interpreting the law. Shameful the way the government has turned out. Even political power point deliveries. The excuses even show an ignorance of the Hatch Act which is reminded to every Federal Employee prior to elections and political activity cannot be done on FEDERAL PROPERTY! And these are the geniuses who are in top level positions of government. Would you believe Rove if he told you he didn't know the Hatch Act? Just another law to be ignored

Posted by: nellieh | March 31, 2007 11:01 AM

You asked this: "How badly does an Attorney General have to behave, how badly does he have to lead, how much prestige and trust does he have to lose, before he is forced, by his own conscience if nothing else, to make way for someone else? You tell me."

Objection! Your question assumes two facts not in evidence: (1) AG AG has not established that he has a conscience, and (2) he has not established that he is ethically competent to apply it to the choice he faces.

Lay a foundation, Mr. Cohen; then, I'll permit the question.

Posted by: Alan | March 31, 2007 11:47 AM

I have no idea where this will all end but I am encouraged that there seems to be a bipartisan recognition that justice should be administered without regard to political affiliation. If only congress could educate the White House staff of this basic civics lesson, we would all be better off.

Posted by: CD-Gainesville | March 31, 2007 12:46 PM

And to think that this guy was under serious consideration for a seat on the Supreme Court. Wounder if he would have trouble "focusing" there too. I hate to admit it, but we also owe a debt of gratitude to our right wing friends for torpedoing Harriet's nomination, albeit for the wrong reasons. Given recent revelations, can you imagine her on the court?

Posted by: Hexnut | March 31, 2007 01:40 PM

Mr. Gonzales wants us to believe that he wasn't really paying attention to what was going on in his agency. OK. I believe him-- guilty of self-confessed incompetence and ineptitude and definitely not ready-for-prime time. Go home, already.

Posted by: pegric | March 31, 2007 02:01 PM

Once again--yo, Republicans, don't change a thing. Keep Gonzo in office, keep ignoring New Orleans, keep on firing U.S. Attorneys, keep on with The Surge, keep listening to Rove and Deadeye Dick--in short, stay the course until November 2008.

Posted by: mikeasr | March 31, 2007 03:14 PM

Can't Mr. Bush find a job for him at FEMA? It is hurricane season in a few months.

Posted by: hdhouse | April 1, 2007 05:30 AM

D. Kyle Sampson said it. The difference between performance and political loyalty is, in the bushie mind, zero! If you're loyal, you're doing a good job! You can't make this stuff up. How did these bozos get to be in charge?? They have so crewed thing up in this country, it will take years to fix.

Posted by: thebob.bob | April 2, 2007 05:19 PM

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