Having failed so miserably in their effort to find an area of weakness, the opponents of President George W. Bush have returned to a strangely out-of-tune theme. Somehow, if they can just convince America that the current administration is corrupt, then “ta-da” – that will be the way to sweep a new administration into office.

It was happening on New Year’s Eve.

Appearing on “Fox and Friends” early Wednesday, New York Sen. Charles Schumer could not pass up the chance to take a dig at Attorney General John Ashcroft over the CIA leak investigation spurred by the Robert Novak column from months ago.

“He should have recused himself (from the investigation of Valerie Plame’s name) a long time ago,” said the senator.

The senior senator from New York then went on to espouse all the “harm” that has been done to the system of justice because the attorney general had not done so to date.

So be it. The senator gets some cheap air time, makes unfounded claims about the attorney general and goes off to party in Times Square. It’s his right.

It’s also important to note that Valerie Plame, the woman who has been so ruthlessly “outed” by “sources” within the D.C. community was so injured by it that she resorted to discussing publicly who should portray her when the story finally goes to the gods of made-for-TV movies. (This was followed up, of course, by a statement for the press from her husband so the world could then know that she in fact had indeed had said discussion.)

In fact, so injured was she by the fact that her name had appeared in a column written several months ago by a single columnist, she demanded that the whole world be made fully aware of her name – even though the vast majority of people in the United States can’t even tell you who Robert Novak was, much less Valerie Plame.

This same Valerie turned out to be quite some politico though. She had wiggled enough authorization from someone in D.C., at some point, to be able to get her generally affable, but unemployed, husband a job going to Africa to imbibe with some of their public-policy types.

Something about uranium, I don’t know … oh, another mint julep, lovely!

Then, there is the ultimate proof of how much her name being now known (though it be not known well) was now endangering her very life. For if you still had no idea just who this terribly offended, nay even horrified, woman was, running for her very life, reputation and a deal from the CBS television network, then she decided to give the ultimate proof.

I mean nothing truly says “I’m in extreme danger of having my identity known” like putting your mug in Vanity Fair magazine with worldwide distribution.

But I digress … back to the investigation into this offensive leak …

Attorney General Ashcroft did look at the evidence. In his estimation, it does not merit the involvement of his attention personally but that does not mean he does not take it seriously. Thus enters Patrick Fitzgerald.

He is the federal prosecutor for the northern district of Illinois. He has been appointed all his life by Republican lawmakers (cue the wails and cries of “not bi-partisan enough”). But in his most recent assignment, he has prosecuted more than two-dozen Republican Illinois lawmakers on charges of corruption, and just last week his team landed a 22-count federal indictment of former Republican Gov. George Ryan.

Let the opponents of President Bush lick their lips, and smack their jaws over the thought of bringing down the administration over the Plame silliness. Just because they have no other issue to try to win with. Let them have this moment of “gotcha” – if the moment is to be had.

If there is an administration official that is found to be at fault for the shocking discovery of Valerie Plame’s identity, Fitzgerald will find it. He’s all business – all the time.

And pssst to Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame: If you think you may have done something to contribute to Valerie’s sudden and shocking exposure, you may want to bury the evidence really deep – because Fitzgerald will go wherever the evidence leads, not where he may shop the best deal for a book and movie offer.

So to Mr. Fitzgerald – happy hunting!

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