Let this be a lesson: 2008 a bad year for political bad guys

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Is it open season on ethically-challenged pols? The latest to fall is Democratic Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, taken into federal custody today amid allegations he conspired to sell an open U.S. Senate seat appointment.

Just a few days ago, the voters of Louisiana’s second district defeated nine-term Congressman William Jefferson. His heavily Democratic district chose Republican Ahn “Joseph” Cao rather than keep him, amid an investigation of bribery allegations and $90,000 in cash found in his fridge.

Jefferson joins the ranks of several others who left Congress under an ethical cloud:

* Alaska Republican Senator/convicted felon Ted Stevens was defeated on election night, though it took a little while for all those votes to get counted.

* Virginia Republican Congressman Virgil Goode, whose alleged earmarks-for-campaign-contribution deals with convicted felon and defense contractor Mitchell Wade have been widely reported, was defeated on election night (though Goode has requested a re-count).

* California Republican Congressman John Doolittle did not seek reelection, amid investigation of his ties to convicted felon and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

* Florida Republican Congressman Tom Feeney, who ran ads personally apologizing for his past involvement with Abramoff, was defeated on election night.

* Arizona Republican Congressman Rick Renzi, under indictment for conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering, extortion, and insurance fraud, did not seek reelection.

That’s an impressive record. Perhaps voters are finally getting fed up with a lack of integrity among their elected officials. The message should be clear enough to others who are flirting with trouble — such as New York Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel and Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young: Watch your seat!

And let us know any we missed in the comments section.

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