Sunday, January 22, 2006

Good ol' Jerry Lewis

A couple of weeks ago we reported when the first local piece on what a good ol' boy John Doolittle hit the streets. At the time, we noted that the respectful tone of the piece and the positive nature of the comments was remarkable similar to articles that hit the local San Diego press regarding then Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham last July.

In both the Doolittle and Cunningham stories, we heard what honest, ethical public servants both men were and had always been. "Honest, straight shooters, trusted, etc...." Neither their associates in Congress nor their constituents on the streets at home could believe that "their" congressman could be unethical or a crook.

Today the first Jerry Lewis is not a crook story came out in the San Bernardino Sun. Admitting that Lewis is "in a crucible as questions about his ethics surface amid a string of congressional scandals," the Sun bails him out with testimonial after testimonial as to what a good and great man Lewis is.

"Supporters back home say they stand firmly behind him.

"In my book, if you wanted to find the word integrity in the dictionary," said Jack Brown, Stater Bros. Markets chairman of the board and CEO, "it would say, 'See Jerry Lewis.' "

Brown has known Lewis for 55 years.

"I have every confidence in the congressman," he said."

A few months ago that's what Cunningham's supporters were saying about the Duke.

The Sun does spend some time exposing its readers to the possibility that Lewis may be involved in some sort of hanky-panky in congress.

"Lewis is under scrutiny for his help in securing funding for a $1.6 billion Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. An investment group held a major fund-raiser for a committee headed by Lewis one day before the project's funding was secured. The group, Cerberus Capital Management, received plum benefits from the project.

But the Cerberus revelation - along with questions about Lewis' close ties to lobbyist Bill Lowery, a former San Diego congressman - has some crying foul. San Diego attorney Stanley F. Zubel, head of a group called Californians for a Cleaner Congress, said Friday that four California congressmen should return money Lewis' committee gave them."

That's the only mention of Bill Lowery in the whole story. Not even a note that the San Diego Union Tribune found the relationship between Lewis and Lowery to be worthy of a front page feature story.

The Sun mentions Lewis' relationship with Cunningham, but refrains from suggesting that Lewis' lack of oversight of Cunningham on his own committee played a substantial role in allowing Cunningham to "earmark" funds for the companies who were bribing him. Nor does the Sun spend any time exploring Lewis' direct connection to Cunningham co-conspirator #1, Brent Wilkes.

Maybe after the truth begins to come out, someone from the Sun will begin to look for it.