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Editor’s note: The following column contains language that may be offensive to some readers.

No. Never. Not one penny.

In the wake of reports last week that the Bush Education Department paid Republican pundit Armstrong Williams $241,000 to flack for its “diversity”-friendly policies while Williams posed as an independent commentator, readers have begun sending e-mails asking whether I am also on the GOP take. There seems to be an orchestrated campaign now because I’ve received several letters with the exact same wording:

Have you, at any time, taken money from the Bush administration in exchange for promotion of the administration’s policies?

Hostile readers assert that if I ignore their e-mails, they’ll assume I am getting paid off by the Bush administration. So, here I am, answering this question instead of reporting on the Michael Chertoff nomination (smart move) or Kid Rock’s invitation to the inaugural celebration (dumb move) or the CBS-Memogate scandal (they’re still in dinosaur media denial).

Speaking of being in denial, some conservatives argue that the Pay to Pander program is no big deal compared to the CBS scandal. The Clinton administration did it, too, they point out. Other liberal journalists have failed to disclose ethically suspicious payments, they steam. Excuses, excuses. I thought we on the Right stood against such expedient moral equivalence.

There are no shades of gray about this, friends: the Bush Education Department subsidized a prominent minority conservative “journalist” with federal taxpayer dollars to sell black parents on the Teddy Kennedy-inspired No Child Left Behind boondoggle – a program that represents the largest single expansion in federal education spending since Jimmy Carter created the Education Department.

This fiscally irresponsible, ethically challenged and possibly illegal arrangement deserves only one thing from conservatives: unqualified contempt.

Ever since I began penning conservative opinions and investigative journalism nearly 15 years ago, liberals have accused me of getting paid to think my own thoughts. The attacks I face every day – in e-mail, on the airwaves and in person – are far more vicious in nature than most conservative journalists receive because I also happen to be a woman and a minority.

Rabid liberal elitists expect and demand that “women of color” in public and political life adopt their left-wing political orthodoxy. When we don’t accept such tripe, their racist and sexist diatribes against us are unmatched.

“Progressive” cartoonists Ted Rall and Jeff Danziger mocked President Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who is black, with caricatures of her as a “House Nigga” (Rall) and a thick-lipped, bare-footed Prissy character from “Gone With the Wind” (Danziger). A writer for the militant open-borders publication La Voz de Aztlan assailed conservative author Linda Chavez and me as sellouts and complained: “Both are married to Jews, both are Republicans and both are being utilized to attack Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.”

“Being utilized” is a constant theme of liberal critics who refuse to tolerate minority conservative dissenters. You want to know how much uglier it will get? Here’s a sample of the hate mail that arrives in my e-mailbox every day – and these predated the Williams/Department of Education fiasco:

  • “Say, how does it feel to be a paid prostitute for the Republicans? Go get some more collagen injected in your lips, it makes you look more the part.”

  • “Michelle how does it feel to whore yourself for the Republican Party. It must be tough to look yourself in the mirror.”

  • “You are a vile, disgusting tramp that has sold her sole to the white dogs (not all whites are dogs though) and cast your lot with the House Niggers.”

  • “How much does the GOP pay you to be their propaganda whore?”

As a result of the Williams/Department of Education payoff, the rhetoric against the rest of us will get even nastier. In the name of “minority outreach,” the Republican education bureaucrats who cooked up their pathetic scheme with Williams have done more damage to our credibility than all the unhinged liberal cartoonists and race-baiters and grievance-mongers could ever hope to do.

Thanks for nothing.

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