Congressman John Doolittle used to be one of my favorite targets back when he represented our fair county. He was a slippery fellow who wasn’t much into town hall meetings or the other public forums that his successor, Tom McClintock, used to rally the troops. Usually, you didn’t know John had been here until after he was already back at home in Placer County or Washington.
It was much the same for the cities and counties he claimed to represent, and he suggested that they would do better to hire lobbyists if they really needed his attention. His busy schedule didn’t allow for actual face-to-face contact with the natives.
Doolittle held a “safe seat” in the House, so he really didn’t have to cater to the rabble. He was a good Mormon boy with close ties to house majority leader Tom DeLay, an association that would come back to haunt him as he was dragged into the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal.
As a professional muckraker, I was duty-bound to comment on the unfolding drama. I did several cartoons in The Union, including this Christmas card pictured above. It didn’t warrant much comment when it appeared, but several months later I received an email from Doolittle’s office asking if I would consider selling the original.
It came as no surprise to me. Politicians see cartoons of themselves as a badge of honor, immortalized in pen and ink for some future history book. It didn’t matter that they were being crucified on the altar of newsprint. I replied in the affirmative and quoted an asking price.
His press secretary called and asked if they could pay with a credit card. Since I was not able to process plastic, she asked for alternatives.
“Well, cash in a brown paper bag would work for me,” I quipped.
After an uncomfortable moment of silence, she said she’d get back to me. She never did. I suppose my sarcasm was lost on her, since her own husband had been dragged into the inquisition. I didn’t know that at the time.
Doolittle managed to slip the hangman’s noose, but it wrecked his life and cost him his seat in Congress. I don’t follow him much anymore, but the last I heard he was employed as a lobbyist for the town of Colfax. He’s back in the business he understands.