(City Journal) -- On the floor of the California senate, incoming president pro tem Kevin de León recently declared Sacramento’s legislature the most august deliberative chamber in the nation. He then ridiculed a Republican senator as puritanical and sanctimonious for demanding that three allegedly corrupt colleagues be expelled. The Los Angeles Democrat preferred to suspend them with pay. The resolution carried the day on a 28 to 1 vote at the end of a week that saw FBI agents raiding a senator’s office. The indictment against Leland Yee charges the San Francisco Democrat—a well-known crusader for gun control and campaign-finance restrictions—with conspiring to traffic in weapons and trading campaign cash for various favors. Such episodes are sadly typical for a legislature that has become such a legend in its own mind that it sometimes struggles with basic ethical questions.
Corruption in the legislature hasn’t kept California lawmakers from addressing other pressing matters, such as a recent bill targeting SeaWorld—the popular aquatic park in San Diego. Introduced by Democratic assemblyman Richard Bloom, the bill would ban parks from holding orcas in captivity for performances or entertainment. Further, it would forbid the capture of orcas in state waters, the breeding of them in captivity, or the collection of their semen. SeaWorld could continue to house its captive orcas for viewing, but it would have to halt all whale shows—which would mean potentially going out of business.